In the most high profile admission so far of what has been repeatedly acknowledged in private, Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, today conceded that the US was ‘probably’ going to keep troops of some sort in the nation beyond 2014.
Officially, of course, President Obama insists that the troops will leave in 2014, a date set at a past NATO conference. But at the same time, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly confirmed US overtures about keeping the troops there through 2024.
Indeed, the entire purpose of last month’s Loya Jirga in Afghanistan was to rubber stamp the Karzai government’s effort to secure US troops for another decade beyond the 2014 date, and while this wasn’t generally acknowledged by US officials, it wasn’t a secret, either.
As the 2014 date approaches, NATO is also seen drifting away from the date, with a top German general also announcing last week that NATO was planning 15,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond.