“We will have them all out of there by 2014,” the president said during a campaign speech in Boulder, Colo., on Sept. 2, 2012.
The question of the size of U.S. forces to be left behind in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline is the wrong question, Gen. Dempsey said.
The correct question is “what size force does the United States and the contributing nations need to leave there to guarantee that the money we’ve all committed to Afghanistan will continue to flow,” he said.
The four-star general said he is concerned that Taliban insurgents could further destabilize the country and prompt donor nations to cut off the $6 billion annually in aid that has been pledged for development.
“If that money dries up or if the money dries up that we’re providing, along with donors, then they can’t survive,” he said. “This really comes down to what will it take to guarantee that the commitments we’ve made monetarily will continue to be realized.”
A draft U.S.-Afghan agreement on troops in Afghanistan reveals that U.S forces will be present in the country for years to come. The draft accord, disclosed Tuesday by NBC News, outlines plans for training Afghan security and military forces and for jointly fighting al Qaeda.
Both sides are divided on the numbers of troops to remain in the country. The United States want to keep 7,000 to 8,000 U.S. troops and additional NATO forces. The Kabul government wants up to 15,000 U.S. troops to stay behind.
Currently, 60,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, along with 26,834 troops from other states under the International Security Assistance Force.
David’s Sling hits test missile
The Pentagon and the Israeli Missile Defense Organization conducted a successful intercept test of a new anti-missile system called David’s Sling.
The new missile defense, also known as Magic Wand, is a key element that will defend against short-range ballistic missiles — such as those being sought by the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hezbollah.
It was the second successful intercept of a target missile by the Stunner interceptor used in David’s Sling, the Pentagon said.
“The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the David’s Sling Weapon System and provides confidence in future Israeli capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat,” the Pentagon said.
The test was conducted at a target range in southern Israel where a target missile was launched, tracked by radar and the data fed to a battle-management system that guided the Stunner to a high-speed impact that destroyed the target missile.
• Bill Gertz can be contacted at @BillGertz.