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Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a visit to Afghanistan on Monday that pulling all U.S. troops out of the country next year is not one of his options.

“I don’t have a zero option,” Gen. Dempsey said. “No one has asked me to prepare a zero option. I don’t recommend a zero option. So there is no zero option, but there could be a zero outcome because we can only stay here if we’re invited to do so.”

The White House floated the idea of a complete pullout of all troops from Afghanistan by next year in a New York Times article that appeared July 8.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden earlier this month offered a different view.

“There is nothing new to add to our many previous comments on post-2014 options,” she said. “Zero was an option we’d consider.”

Gen. Dempsey said he is committed to reaching a U.S.-Afghan security agreement. The two countries currently are at odds on a plan to tax the U.S. military withdrawal.

Building Afghan security forces is the key for the country’s security, he said.

“That won’t happen in the next year but it can happen if we stay at it beyond 2014,” he added.

Several options are under consideration for the U.S. military bases and the number of troops to take part in training and assistance after the end of 2014, he said, without providing further details.

U.S. troops will be reduced to 34,000 by February. There are currently 97,920 foreign troops in the country, including 68,000 Americans.


U.S. government officials and academics underestimated China’s military buildup for decades.

That is one of the conclusions of a new book, “The Dragon Extends Its Reach: Chinese Military Power Goes Global,” by former military intelligence officer Larry M. Wortzel.

Mr. Wortzel, who spent 32 years as a China specialist in the military, recalled that, as he prepared to go to China as a military attache in 1988, one scholar in a briefing described China’s military as a “nuisance” force unable to fight because of outdated arms and equipment and a lack of military capabilities.

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