WASHINGTON: The US and its allies should immediately announce how many troops will stay on in Afghanistan after 2014, former Nato supreme commander Admiral James Stavridis argued on Wednesday.
Stavridis, who recently finished a four-year stint as the alliance’s top military leader, said it was vital to unveil the troop plans quickly to counter Taliban propaganda claiming foreign troops are abandoning the country.
In a commentary, Stavridis wrote that he supported keeping 15,000 US and allied forces in the country after the bulk of coalition troops withdraw as planned in 2014.
“I believe the correct number is about 9,000 US and 6,000 allied troops, for a total of about 15,000 allied trainers who would focus on mentoring, training, and advising the 350,000 strong Afghan National Security Forces,” he wrote in Foreign Policy.
“Instead of waiting for months, we should move now to decide and publicly reveal the commitment,” the admiral said.
There are now roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in the Nato-led coalition, with the Americans making up about two-thirds of the force. US officials have long suggested they expected to retain a smaller force of about 8,000 to 12,000 troops after 2014.
But, amid difficult negotiations on a long-term security accord with Kabul, White House officials have spoken of a possible “zero option” with no US boots on the ground after next year. The former top commander of US and alliance forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has called for keeping 13,600 American troops in the country, as well as a number of Nato forces. He too has urged President Barack Obama to announce the troop decision as soon as possible. Agencies