Obama intends to leave 'small' U.S. force in Afghanistan after 2014

President Obama indicated during his State of the Union address that he intends to leave a “small” U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after the U.S. and NATO combat mission ends in December. 

“If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies,” the president said.

The president did not specify what the size of the “small” force would be, but said they would carry out two “narrow” missions — training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue “any remnants of al Qaeda.” 

The president is reportedly still deciding how many U.S. troops to leave in Afghanistan after 2014. 

U.S. military commanders have recommended leaving 10,000 American troops post-2014, but Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop union offers backing for Ellison in DNC race John Kerry to teach at Yale on global issues Ellison needles Perez for 'unverifiable' claim of DNC support MORE has recommended leaving 2,000 to 3,000. 

The president’s remarks could signal the troop presence could be closer to Biden’s recommendation than Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford’s, but even that will depend on whether and when President Karzai or his successor signs an agreement allowing U.S troops to stay.