Administration officials said publicly for the first time Tuesday that the U.S. might leave no American troops in Afghanistan after the end of combat in December 2014, an option that defies the view of Pentagon officials who say thousands of U.S. troops could be needed there to keep a lid on Al Qaeda and to strengthen the Afghan army and police.
"The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of `X' number of troops in Afghanistan," said Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser. "We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government."
The U.S. now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010.
Administration officials in recent days have said they are considering a range of options for a residual U.S. troop presence after 2014, from as few as 3,000 to as many as 15,000, with the number linked to a specific set of military-related missions.
Asked in a conference call with reporters whether zero was now an option, Rhodes said, "That would be an option we would consider."
His statement comes just three days before Afghan President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss ways of framing an enduring partnership beyond 2014. The two are at odds on numerous issues, including a U.S. demand that any American troops who would remain in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends be granted immunity from prosecution under Afghan laws. Karzai has resisted, while emphasizing his interest in getting large-scale U.S. support to maintain an effective security force after 2014.
Without explicitly mentioning immunity, Obama's top White House military adviser on Afghanistan, Doug Lute, told reporters Tuesday that the Afghans will have to give the U.S. certain "authorities" if it wants U.S. troops to remain.
"As we know from our Iraq experience, if there are no authorities granted by the sovereign state, then there's not room for a follow-on U.S. military mission," Lute said. He was referring to 2011 negotiations with Iraq that ended with no agreement to grant legal immunity to U.S. troops who would have stayed to help train Iraqi forces. As a result, no U.S. troops remain in Iraq.
Rhodes said Obama is focused on two main outcomes in Afghanistan: ensuring that the country does not revert to being the Al Qaeda haven it was prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and getting the government to the point where it can stand on its own.
"That's what guides us, and that's what causes us to look for different potential troop numbers -- or not having potential troops in the country," Rhodes said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/08/2013
Editor's Note: It would have been one thing if the politicians and activists would have learned the only lesson to learn from the Vietnam War, that politicians should butt out when there are boots on the ground, allowing the military to win the military effort unconditionally and with prejudice. Only then should "nation building" be executed and though the State Department and foreign aid agencies, not the military. Our military should be respected by our allies and feared by our foes, not mocked by terrorists who take advantage of politically manufactured ground-rules that neuter the lethal efficiency of those with boots on the ground. Sadly, our marginally intelligent political class did not learn anything from the political failures of the Vietnam War and, in act doubled down on the stupidity. The results: The Taliban and al Qaeda will reconstitute in Afghanistan with the newly acquired knowledge of how the US military operates, women will be returned to the days of slaughter at the hands of Islamists and Vietnam War era activists like John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are being elevated to positions they shouldn't even be allowed to read about...
The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...
The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a sustaining donation today.