Study warns against Afghan troop cuts

A report prepared for the Pentagon warns that current plans to downsize the Afghan National Security Forces after 2015 would jeopardize the stability of the country, The Wall Street Journal reports

The U.S. and NATO plans to cut Afghan troops from a peak of 352,000 down to 228,500 after 2015. At the same time, a Taliban-led insurgency "will become a greater threat to Afghanistan's stability" as it rebuilds its strength and expands its control across the country, the report concludes. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"If the U.S. policy goal is to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for terrorists and insurgents, drawing down the Afghan security forces to 228,500 puts that goal at risk," said Jonathan Schroden, who oversaw the Center for Naval Analyses’s research. 

Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Elissa Smith told the Journal that the assessment "will help inform U.S. government decision making regarding the post-2014 military mission in Afghanistan."

Keeping Afghan troops at 352,000 would cost U.S. and NATO money — about $6.5 billion a year, according to the Journal, as opposed to $4.1 billion a year for 228,500. 

However, lawmakers have recently cut financial support for Afghan troops, from $5.7 billion last year, to $4.7 billion this year. 

Lawmakers rejected the White House’s 2014 core request for $5.1 billion as well as an extra $2.6 billion to buy equipment for the Afghan military that would have allowed it to be “better able to take the lead in defending its own country.”