By Jeremy Herb - 01/10/13 06:01 PM EST
The White House is currently considering its options for the U.S. force levels in Afghanistan over the next two years and post-2014, which reports have said range from a few thousand troops to as many as 20,000. There are currently about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington this week, meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
“If Americans pull out all of their troops without a plan, the civil war of the 1990s would repeat itself," said Naeem Lalai, an outspoken lawmaker from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.
"It (full withdrawal) will pave the way for the Taliban to take over militarily," Lalai told Reuters.
NATO troops are planning to draw down and hand off security as the Afghan forces ramp up to 350,000, but there are questions about how ready the Afghan troops and police will be to operate on their own.
Obama and Karzai signed an agreement last year that could maintain a U.S. presence through 2024, but there are still many details that must be hashed out — including troop levels.
The United States had also considered leaving troops in Iraq after 2011, but the Obama administration was unable to reach an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who refused to give U.S. troops immunity in Iraqi courts.
The Afghan government is seen as being more open to keeping a U.S. presence, which would include troops for both special operations and training purposes.
“If American forces leave Afghanistan without properly training the Afghan security forces, and equipping them, it would be a disaster," parliament member Mirwais Yasini told Reuters.