WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — More U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan for an extended period of time.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, President Obama announced the change of plans from the White House and said it is necessary to prevent future attacks.
The president said the security situation in Afghanistan is fragile and more U.S. forces need to remain in the country.
“Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be,” the president said.
There are about 10,000 American troops there. The president initially planned to leave about a thousand.
The revised strategy eventually drops the force level to about 5,500 troops by December next year and they’ll stay at least through the start of 2017.
“My approach is to assess the situation on the ground, figure out what’s working, figure out what’s not working, make adjustments if necessary,” the president said.
The plan is getting mixed reactions.
“I’m leery of a long-term ground presence, what we should do to protect our homeland is drones, intelligence, and reconnaissance,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) New York, said.
Marine Corps veteran Brian Jones served in Afghanistan and said this sends a message to the Taliban and ISIS.
“The president said in 2009 that we would have a firm draw down date. That sent a message to the Taliban that all they had to do was run our the clock. He’s now had to walk that back and says there is no clock,” Jones said, “The story of what the Islamic State has done in Iraq and Syria is a cautionary tale to how the Iraq war ended, compared to how the war in Afghanistan could end.”
The 26-year-old Jones is now attending Columbia University, but said he worries about how the nation supports its veterans.
“There’s a quote that goes around the Marine Corps that America is at the mall, the Marine Corps is at war,” he said.
Senator John McCain said he welcomed the change, but that 5,500 troops will only be adequate to conduct either the counter-terrorism or the training, but not both.