Pentagon calls for 10,000 troops in Afghanistan

Pentagon leaders have presented the White House with a plan that would keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year, senior officials told The Wall Street Journal.

The plan proposes to withdraw almost all United States forces by the end of President Obama’s second term.

The timeline is much shorter than what the military previously planned.

Obama was told if he rejects this new proposal, he should withdraw almost all military personnel by the end of the year, the Journal reports.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai, however, would have to agree to the new proposal. Until now, Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security deal with the U.S. that which outlines how foreign troops could stay in Afghanistan after 2014.

Both the State Department and intelligence agencies support the 10,000-troop plan, according to the newspaper. 

The White House says Obama has not yet made a decision about final troop numbers. 

“If we cannot conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement promptly, then we will initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Journal. "That is not a future we are seeking, and we do not believe that it is in Afghanistan's interests." 

Right now, 37,500 troops are stationed in Afghanistan, the report notes. The U.S. is preparing to withdraw more than 5,000 of them next month. This is part of the plan Obama announced at the State of the Union a year ago, when he announced he’d draw down half of the 64,000 troops there. 

The Pentagon’s pitch to the White House comes as some lawmakers worry about the resurgence of al Qaeda members in Iraq. Some Republicans, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have argued this is evidence why American troops should have stayed beyond 2011.  

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