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Staying Longer: US Might Keep Thousands of Troops in Afghanistan Past 2016

© WikipediaUS troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan
US troops board a helicopter in Afghanistan - Sputnik International
US and allied defense officials are reviewing drawdown options in Afghanistan, including one that would keep thousands of American troops in the country beyond 2016.

US Army General John Campbell has sent five different recommendations to the Pentagon and to NATO officials in Brussels, each with its own risk assessment, officials told the Wall Street Journal.

The options include keeping the current US presence at or near 10,000; reducing it to 8,000; cutting the force roughly in half; and continuing with current plans to draw down to a force of several hundred troops by the end of 2016.

Afghan security forces gather at the site of an attack by Taliban fighters outside the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, June 22, 2015 - Sputnik International
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Some officials worry that withdrawing too many troops could put the Afghan government under a greater threat from the Taliban and other militants. Others believe the government could still operate effectively with support from a smaller force of several thousand Americans.

Casting a shadow over the debate is the role the Iraq withdrawal of 2011 had in the rise of the Islamic State terror group. Some officials believe the Iraqi military would have been more equipped to hold off the Islamic State’s advance last year if United States kept at least several thousand advisers in the country.

The Pentagon has not offered a formal recommendation on changes in the troop presence in Afghanistan.

A senior administration official said the White House remains focused on training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces and conducting counterterrorism missions, the WSJ reported.

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