- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2015

U.S. military officials and allies are reconsidering troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and may consider alternatives that include maintaining a force of thousands of troops in the region after the end of 2016.

Officials are worried that reducing the number of troops too much could result in weakened government stability in Afghanistan that could cave to the pressure of militant groups like the Taliban.

The top commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, has sent five different recommendations to the Pentagon and to NATO officials in Brussels, each with its own risk assessment, officials said, The Wall Street journal reported.

The options include keeping the current U.S. presence at or near 10,000 troops; reducing slightly to 8,000; cutting the force roughly in half; or continuing with the Obama administration’s current plans to draw down to a force of several hundred troops by the end of 2016.

Critics and military leaders, including former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, say troop drawdowns in Iraq facilitated the rise of the Islamic State group, arguing it would not have gained so much ground had Iraqi forces been better equipped to combat them and had the U.S. military kept several thousand advisers in Iraq.

The Department of Defense has not yet issued any formal recommendations to change plans for the drawdown in Afghanistan and President Obama insists that he will scale back troop numbers in the region to a small force by the time he leaves the White House in 2017.

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