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U.S. to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan

Rocket propelled grenade launchers  (U.S. photo/Spc. Justin French)
Rocket propelled grenade launchers
(U.S. photo/Spc. Justin French)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year.

President Obama welcomed Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and the accompanying Afghan delegation to Washington from March 22-26, 2015. In a statement released by the White House, President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah expressed deep appreciation for the contributions, sacrifices and sustained commitment of the United States that made these achievements possible and underscored that this support is paying dividends for Afghans, Americans, and the international community alike. The Afghan economy has grown more than fourfold over the last 13 years and young Afghans are attending school at unprecedented levels, with girls and women comprising a growing percentage of these students.

President Obama hailed the successful completion of the security transition, the end of the NATO-led combat mission, and Afghan forces taking the lead on, and full responsibility for, security throughout Afghanistan. The leaders also acknowledged the important continuing role of NATO’s new Resolute Support Mission in supporting the further development of the ANDSF’s capabilities.

Both Presidents saluted the courage and growing capability of Afghan security forces, including their success in securing the elections last year. The leaders joined in paying their respects to the families of Afghan soldiers and civilians who have been killed or injured in the 13-year war. President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah also offered condolences to the families of American soldiers and civilians who were killed and injured while serving in Afghanistan, and on behalf of the Afghan people, expressed gratitude to the American people for their sacrifices and continued support.

Both sides agreed on an early formation of the Joint Commission to oversee the implementation of the BSA and President Obama affirmed ongoing U.S. support for Afghan security forces. Based on President Ghani’s request for flexibility in the U.S. draw down timeline, the U.S. will maintain its current posture of 9,800 troops through the end of 2015. The specific trajectory of the 2016 U.S. troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016. This flexibility reflects the re-invigorated partnership with Afghanistan, which is aimed at making Afghanistan secure and preventing it from being used to launch terrorist attacks. Reconciliation and a political settlement remain the surest way to achieve the full retrograde of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan in a way that safeguards international interests and peace in Afghanistan, as well as U.S. national security interests.

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