Making plans for Afghanistan exit at the end of 2014
Updated: Friday, March 29th, 2013 | By Angie Drobnic Holan
There was a lot of talk of 2014 when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Afghanistan recently. That's the date President Barack Obama has set for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.
But much remains to be worked out. The United States and Afghanistan intend to reach an agreement on how many troops would remain, to train the Afghan military and for counterterrorism. Meanwhile, the people of Afghanistan go to the polls in April 2014 to elect a new president.
At a press conference in Kabul with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on March 25, Kerry acknowledged there was much to be done but said things were heading in the right direction
"I believe that the security of Afghanistan is growing and will grow over the course of the next two years, and I have confidence that in the bilateral security agreement we will have a full understanding of exactly how that will occur,” Kerry said.
Later in his trip, Kerry heard Afghan women entrepreneurs who said they feared the U.S. withdrawal would bring more instability and corruption for their country, according to a report from the New York Times.
Obama has said some troops will remain in 2015 and afterwards, but he hasn't set a number. In his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, Obama said he intended to bring 34,000 troops back home over the next year.
"While it is too soon to make decisions about the number of forces that could remain in Afghanistan after 2014, any presence would be at the invitation of the Afghan Government and focused on two distinct missions: training, advising and equipping Afghan forces, and continued counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda and their affiliates,” Obama said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also emphasized the 2014 deadline in conversations with troops on March 8 in a visit to Afghanistan.
"We are still at war, and many of you will continue to experience the ugly reality of combat and the heat of battle,” Hagel said. "But the goal we have established – to have Afghans assume full responsibility for security by the end of 2014 – is clear and achievable.”
Obama and his administration are warning that the next two years are difficult. But as far as messaging, they're clearly emphasizing the 2014 deadline. We rate this promise In the Works.
U.S. State Department, Remarks With President Hamid Karzai After Their Meeting, March 25, 2013
The White House, Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address, Feb. 12, 2013
U.S. Defense Department, Secretary Issues Message to ISAF Personnel During First Official Trip to Afghanistan, March 8, 2013
New York Times, Kerry Hears Afghan Fears From Women in Business, March 26, 2013
Council on Foreign Relations, Why is the United States still in Afghanistan?, accessed March 29, 2013
The Weekly Standard, A better Afghanistan will require a better president, by Max Boot, April 1, 2013
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