Obama to slow troop drawdown in Afghanistan?

Obama to slow troop drawdown in Afghanistan?
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The Obama administration will reportedly depart from its plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of the year, after top defense and military officials advised slowing the pace.  


Instead, the White House will likely allow most of the roughly 10,000 troops there now to remain well into 2016, The Associated Press reported

There are also plans to keep a higher number of special operations forces in Afghanistan to pursue remnants of al Qaeda and to prevent the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from establishing a foothold in Afghanistan, the AP reported. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is visiting the White House at the end of this month, providing President Obama an opportunity to announce the slower troop withdrawal. 

The administration has been considering the move for several months, since asking U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell to prepare options for withdrawal. 

Campbell had advocated for slowing the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated during a congressional hearing earlier this month that the administration could slow the pace within the next year or two. 

It's not clear exactly how many troops the president would allow to remain in Afghanistan by the end of the year, and there is stiff opposition from national security adviser Susan Rice over departing from the original drawdown plan, the AP reported. 

That administration had planned to reduce the roughly 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of the year at two bases, and down to 1,000 by the end of next year at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. 

The drawdown plan would have allowed President Obama to end U.S. troops' mission in Afghanistan to train and assist Afghan forces, after ending their combat mission in December.