General says some US forces might remain in Afghanistan past 2014

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan said troops might remain in Afghanistan after 2014, beyond a timetable set by President Obama for withdrawing U.S. troops.

In an interview with The New York Times, Gen. John Allen said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has discussed a U.S. military presence staying past 2014.

Karzai had, “in fact, just the other day talked about his desire to have conversations with the U.S. about a post-2014 force,” Allen told The Times. “We would probably see some number of advisers, trainers, intelligence specialists here for some period of time beyond 2014.”

The U.S. has begun withdrawing surge troops from Afghanistan this year, and plans to withdraw 33,000 troops by next September. That follows the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, which concluded on Sunday.

U.S. and NATO forces are supposed to turn over control of security duties to Afghan-led forces in 2014. Allen said over the next two years more military trainers and mentors will go to Afghanistan to help train Afghan security forces, and that the presence of American special operations forces will be reduced.

Allen said the insurgency’s credibility will be harmed if they can’t tell potential supporters they would have free rein after 2014.