By Kristina Wong - 03/13/14 04:20 PM EDT
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said if he is forced to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by December 2014, he would need at least 102 days before then to do it in an orderly fashion.
“There is a period of risk that starts in September,” he said. “The closer you get to 31 December, the more you have to do things to meet that 31 December deadline.”
The U.S. has been trying to get a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan signed that would allow U.S. troops to maintain a small presence there to continue a counterterrorism mission against core al Qaeda forces and continue training and advising Afghan troops.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wants to wait until after April presidential election for the new president to sign the agreement.
That new president would be sworn in around August, and have only a month to sign the agreement in order to avoid a disorderly withdrawal.
Dunford has recommending leaving 8,000 to 12,000 NATO forces there for the pos-war mission that would last for the next 10 years. The White House is considering a range of options, including zero or several thousand troops.