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PublishDate: Monday, September 9, 2013 08:54

Some U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014

Some U.S. combat forces will need to remain in Afghanistan after NATO’s mission ends in 2014, top commanders in Afghanistan say.

Some U.S. combat forces will need to remain in Afghanistan after NATO’s mission ends in 2014, top commanders in Afghanistan say as they await guidance from the president on how many U.S. troops will remain as part of a training and advising operation.

Air ForceMaj. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, deputy commander for U.S. and coalition air operations in Afghanistan, said that some U.S. air combat forces would remain after 2014 even as Operation Enduring Freedom becomes Operation Resolute Support.

“Our plan right now is to have those forces in country, for sure, and we’ll be able to support the coalition forces with close air support,” Gen. Wilsbach said in a phone interview from Kabul.

Gen. Wilsbach said it’s still being worked out whether U.S. air combat forces can support both Afghan troops and American fighters who will remain as part of Operation Resolute Support.

“I think that it would be the appropriate thing to do,” he said. “But obviously, that’s not my decision to make. We’re still awaiting guidance.”

Most international troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. U.S. and Afghan officials have been negotiating how many American troops will remain after the deadline, with several officials suggesting that a few thousand will stay behind to train and advise Afghan security forces.

Navy Adm. James Stavridis, who retired in May as NATO’s supreme commander, said in Foreign Policy magazine last month that he thinks 9,000 U.S. and 6,000 allied troops would be sufficient to teach and mentor Afghanistan’s 350,000-man security force. (Washington Times)

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