By Richard Engel, Chief Foreign correspondent
KABUL – While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.
The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms.
By Lucy Madison
afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)
President Obama will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai this Friday to discuss ongoing negotiations over the U.S.’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan, but the White House says not to expect any final decision about how many U.S. troops — if any — will stay in Afghanistan after the war’s official drawdown at the end of next year.
In a conference call this afternoon, the Obama administration’s Ben Rhodes told reporters that “they’re not going to finalize that decision” in this discussion, but rather attempt to “reach a common understanding of how we can achieve” mutual objectives for the post-2014 relationship. Then, he says, negotiators in Washington “will be able to take that guidance and be able to finalize an agreement.”
Among the topics up for discussion include the impending transition for the 2014 drawdown, as well as the plan for U.S. support in Afghanistan beyond that date. According to the White House, any continued U.S. troop presence will be guided by a few key goals: Assuring the continued progress of ongoing counterterrorism efforts and training and equipping the national Afghan security forces, while also guaranteeing full Afghan sovereignty. FULL ARTICLE