President Obama Wednesday announced that he will leave some 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end his administration, reducing his planned reduction of troops for 2016 from 4,300 to just 1,400.
Obama had wanted to drop troop levels from the 9,800 on hand at the beginning of 2016 to 5,500 troops by the end of the year, but the Taliban has been showing new signs of life, forcing Obama to reevaluate his thinking.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said during remarks at the White House, noting Afghan security forces are still not as capable as the need to be. “The Taliban remains a threat,” Obama acknowledged.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham this week called on Obama not to decrease troop levels at all. Obama’s military advisers have also told Obama he should leave a robust force in the country and cancel the drawdown.
Obama of course removed all U.S. forces from Iraq and then campaigned on “ending” the Iraq war, only to have to put what so far amounts to another 3,000 troops back in the country after his actions resulted in the rise of ISIS.
Of course, Obama would never want to be seen as caving to anybody, so he had to reduce the number by a bit to make sure he saved face. So the 8,400 left will make things a little more difficult for those fighting in Afghanistan, but it will make the president feel better.