Though usually the Obama Administration is emphasizing the “zero option” for Afghanistan in an attempt to coax President Hamid Karzai into giving in to their demands, officials say the focus right now is on a 3,000 troop plan.
The plan would leave behind 3,000 occupation troops, pretty much entirely at Kabul and Bagram, for a more or less open-ended “counter-terrorism operation” that officials intend to present as something less than a war, despite continued combat.
Pentagon commanders are said to be opposed to this plan, and are pushing one that includes at least 10,000 stay-behind troops in a similarly open-ended occupation role. Other options are being discussed that might end the occupation in 2016, though these don’t seem favored by officials.
Officials say they’re not really talking to Karzai about signing off on a troop deal anymore “because it doesn’t get us anywhere.” Rather, they’re figuring on having the plans in place and then getting Karzai’s successor to sign off on whatever they decide.