US commander in Afghanistan finishing troop plan this week

US commander in Afghanistan finishing troop plan this week
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The new top U.S. commander in Afghanistan will finish his 90-day review of the situation in the war-torn nation this week.

Army Lt. Gen. John Nicholson's report will play a central role in determining U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. 

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"He is literally finishing it this week as we speak, and he is presenting it to his military chain of command," Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, deputy chief of staff for communication for the Resolute Support Mission, said Wednesday.  

Cleveland said Nicholson's superiors will be briefed on his review but did not say when or whether it will be publicized. 

"At this point, he does intend to keep it classified, and he does intend to keep it private so he can have those frank discussions with his military leadership, but we expect in the coming days that it will be completed and he will have presented it to his chain of command," he said. 

It is widely expected that Nicholson will recommend keeping more troops than planned in Afghanistan in the face of a precarious security situation. There are currently 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That number is expected to drop to 5,500 troops by the end of the year. 

Some senators are urging the president to rethink that timeline. The Taliban has stepped up their attacks against Afghan forces as U.S. troops have drawn down since 2014, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has established a nascent presence there

A bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee urged Obama in a letter last week to give Nicholson’s recommendations “extraordinary weight.”

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The lawmakers also called on President Obama to make a decision on troop levels before two NATO conferences this summer in order to discuss with NATO allies their troop levels and support for the war.

A NATO Force Generation Conference starts on June 8, and another summit starts on July 8.