With Afghan President Hamid Karzai visiting the US, the Obama Administration has sought to “reassure” the Afghans of continued military support, with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisting that the US will “stand by” Afghanistan for years to come.
The comments come just a day after reports that the US was considering a full military withdrawal at the end of 2014, a strategy seen as very unlikely, and potentially brought up only as leverage in negotiations with Karzai.
Panetta sought to keep this sense going, even as he sought to reassure Karzai over the open-ended military commitment of the US, saying that the US is nearing the “last chapter” of its war aims. Nearly 12 years into the occupation, exactly what these aims are is unclear at best.
Recent reports are that the US is considering several possibilities for its troop levels in 2015 and beyond, with the “no troops” option seeming extremely unlikely. President Obama signed an agreement last year to keep US troops in Afghanistan through at least 2024.