Nightly News   |  November 19, 2013

US-Afghan deal would create long-term relationship

The war in Afghanistan has become the nation’s longest war, and a draft copy of a U.S.-Afghan deal shows that even when U.S. combat troops come home next year, America could still have a significant and expensive presence in Afghanistan for a long time to come. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and our chief foreign correspondent broke this story this morning. it has to do with the longest war , in afghanistan , 12 years now, so very costly in blood and treasure. richard engel has obtained a draft company of the deal that shows even when the u.s. combat troops come home next year as they're scheduled to, america could still have an extended presence in afghanistan for a long time to come yet. richard is with us from kabul , good evening, richard .

>> reporter: good evening, brian, the u.s. has long talked about leaving a kind of residual force here in afghanistan . but when you see an actual proposal you realize how extensive that commitment could be. the u.s. has been at war in afghanistan since 2001 . 9/11 was plotted from here. osama bin laden hid out here. so the u.s. bombed. and with just a few hundred american troops pushed out the taliban and al-qaeda. then more troops came. 100,000 americans at the peak. more than 2,000 of them died. 48,000 are still here. the u.s. combat mission in afghanistan ends in 2014 . but then what? today, nbc news obtained this draft of a u.s./afghan security agreement which is still unsigned. but it described a sweeping, long-term relationship with the u.s. paying for afghan forces and maintaining outposts in this country, perhaps until 2024 , and maybe beyond that. u.s. troops training and equipping and advising afghan forces and hunting al-qaeda. movement off base would be severely restricted. afghan officials want 10 to 15,000 troops to stay for at least ten years, the u.s. military officials talk of 7 to 8,000. u.s. troops here now mostly do training. the u.s. air force today in kabul , working with afghan airmen.

>> i think they're on their feet, a bit nervous about taking their first few steps without us. but i think they can do that.

>> reporter: but most afghan troops don't want americans to leave.

>> we need more strong support from international communities, especially from the u.s.

>> reporter: but why not just leave? the afghan government would likely collapse. afghanistan could again become a haven for terrorists. but after so many years, would a force of 7,000 make a difference? iraq stands as a warning. there was no agreement there when had the u.s. left and the civil war has come back even stronger. an afghan agreement may prevent a repeat of that, not ending the war in 2014 . just changing it. afghans will vote this week on the deal. after that it is up to the u.s. to do it or not. brian?

>> richard engel with us from kabul tonight, richard , thank you.