Obama’s Afghanistan War Is Still Not Over

The White House says most U.S. troops aren't coming home from Afghanistan as previously planned

Oct 15, 2015 at 2:06 PM ET

America’s war in Afghanistan will continue for longer than President Obama had previously promised, with thousands of U.S. troops staying on the ground beyond his presidency.

The president said Thursday that the current force of U.S. troops, numbering 9,800, will remain in place through most of 2016 before dropping to about 5,500 by early 2017. Previously, all but 1,000 troops based in Kabul would have been out by the end of 2016.

“As you are well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war, and I have repeatedly argued against marching into open-ended military conflicts that do not serve our core security interests,” Obama told reporters at the White House, flanked by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice President Joe Biden.

“Yet given what’s at stake in Afghanistan, and the opportunity for a stable and committed ally that can partner with us in preventing the emergence of future threats, and the fact that we have an international coalition, I am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort,” he said.

More The War In Afghanistan: By The Numbers

Existing challenges on the ground, the recent temporary seizure of the city of Kunduz by an increasingly resurgent Taliban, and the struggles by the Afghan security forces to perform, have contributed to Obama’s decision to keep troops in place longer than he’d previously intended.

He also said that number might change again, if conditions on the ground do not improve in time.

“My approach is to assess the situation on the ground, figure out what’s working, figure out what’s not working, make adjustments where necessary,” he told reporters. “This isn’t the first time those adjustments have been made; this won’t probably be the last.”