President Obama intends to announce his planned troop levels for 2015 and beyond, with those familiar with it saying 9,800 troops is the goal for the start of 2015 and an intention to reduce it to 1,000 by the end of 2016.
That’s roughly in line with long-standing recommendations for 2015, with then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta pushing levels between 8,000 and 12,000, and the Pentagon recently saying that they believed 10,000 was a “bare minimum” presence.
The presence is dependent on finalizing the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan, which will happen after the run-off election. Abdullah Abdullah, the front-runner, has expressed support for the deal.
The promises of further cuts at the end of 2016 didn’t sit well with hawks, but analysts are saying they were likely intended to placate a war-weary public. Whether that means the cuts are going to happen or not remains to be seen.