Obama Orders Military to Prepare For a Complete Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Image from cnn.com.

Image from cnn.com.

President Obama has ordered top military commanders to initiate the early stages of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan to ensure that all Americans service members are out of the war torn nation by the end of this year.

For months, Obama has been trying to convince Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) that would allow for some American troops to remain in country following the end of 2014.

However, according to a recent statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Pres Obama has come to the conclusion that Pres Karzai will most likely not sign the BSA. As a result, Obama has made it clear to the leader of the increasingly unstable country that all US military personnel and equipment will have left by the start of 2015.

White House officials stated that Obama spoke with Karzai on the phone Tuesday morning and argued that a “limited” force of 15,000 personnel remaining in Afghanistan to conduct training and counterterrorism operations would be mutually beneficial.

Though he has had little success in his talks with Karzai, Obama remains hopeful that the Afghan presidential elections in April will bring in a new leader; one that will be more willing to cooperate with American interests.

There is a widespread consensus that the Afghan Army will be unable to maintain control of their own country without continued support from the American military.

Army General Martin Dempsey, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Associate Press this week that leaders of the Afghan military were asking him to stay and keep his troops in their country. Gen. Dempsey further explained that the prospect of a complete American withdrawal was eroding the confidence of the lower ranking Afghan soldiers as well.

“If the international community leaves, there is no question that we will lose ground to the Taliban,” Col. Mohammad Dost, a battalion commander in Kabul province, said in an interview with the Washington Post. “It’s the biggest worry for every soldier now.”

Even political leaders of neighboring Pakistan have voiced their concerns that the sudden power vacuum created by an absent American military will likely be filled with civil war and an ever-strengthening Taliban.

According to US officials, without the signing of the BSA, they will be unable to keep any amount of military advisors in Afghanistan. Furthermore, American financial aid will drop off dramatically. They young and troubled government will truly be on their own.

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