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Deadline dismissed: US wants troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014

Published time: October 16, 2012 21:02
Edited time: October 17, 2012 01:02
US Army soldiers attached to the 1st Squadron (Airborne) 91st US Cavalry Regiment 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team, pay their respects to US Staff Sergeant Orion Sparks and Sergeant Jonathan Gollnitz during a memorial ceremony at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank near Puli Alam in Logar Province.(AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman)

US Army soldiers attached to the 1st Squadron (Airborne) 91st US Cavalry Regiment 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team, pay their respects to US Staff Sergeant Orion Sparks and Sergeant Jonathan Gollnitz during a memorial ceremony at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank near Puli Alam in Logar Province.(AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman)

The United States’ post-9/11 actions in Afghanistan have already earned the operation the distinction of being America’s longest-running war, and promises on the verge of being shattered could cause an expected end to be still a ways in the future.

Despite repeated pleas from US President Barack Obama to conclude the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a leading official with the State Department tells reporters this week that the United States is readying plans that will leave boots on the ground for the unforeseeable future, perhaps long after the Obama-insisted deadline comes and goes.

Marc Grossman, the State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, reportedly told the press on Tuesday that upcoming negotiations in the region will iron out how and who will be left overseas after 2014 to allegedly engage in counterterrorism efforts and assist Afghans with military training.

According to a report published this week in Foreign Policy, Grossman says the State Dept. will soon start up a round of talks with overseas officials with the goal of establishing a game plan for how America will conduct itself after the war is considered over.

Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy writes, “the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the US troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counterterrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.”

Grossman adds that the State Dept. has already held meetings to discuss "how we will manage our forces going forward in Afghanistan," and now must begin negotiations to figure out a number of factors, including who and how many troops will be left behind.

The why, of course, is to aid Afghans unable to fend against insurgency on their own after the US military formally walks away. Just last week, however, US Vice President Joe Biden said he opposes assisting the Afghans any further once the operation hits the 2014 deadline.

“The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We've decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose,” Mr. Biden said during last week’s debate against Paul Ryan, the GOP running mate vying for an Executive Branch position under Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney. “And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It's their responsibility to take over their own security. That's why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we've agreed on a gradual drawdown so we're out of there by the year — in the year 2014.”

“It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security,” Mr. Biden added. “We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we're going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We've been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we're doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It's their responsibility, not America's.”

Earlier this week, officials with NATO confirmed that allied troops composed in part with US soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline, but strictly in an advisory role.

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