The latest reports from administration officials suggest that they are looking to the Pentagon to put together another option for them to consider for Afghan troop levels, one that is an “under 10,000” option.
The Pentagon won’t like that – they presented 10,000 troops as the “bare minimum” for Afghanistan repeatedly, and have been push for even bigger options for the residual force occupying Afghanistan from 2015 on.
Reports have emerged from time to time of lesser options, but they have all been shouted down by the Pentagon as far too little, and they continue to tell Congress that anything less than their envisioned residual force would see Afghanistan quickly crumble under Taliban offensives.
The latest report could well just be an exercise in pro-war rhetoric for the administration too, as they couched the lower option as being a result of how well they reckon the Afghan election went. Though the US hasn’t conceded it, Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission has documented even more corruption in this vote than the 2009 version, which saw millions of ballots thrown out.