About Face: Obama to Slow Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

 / Updated 

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the U.S. will not reduce troop levels in Afghanistan by the end of 2015, despite the president's previous pledge to cut the number by half.

The announcement came during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is making his first visit to the U.S. since being elected.

"We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure Afghan security forces succeed so that we don't have to go back," Obama said.

The U.S. will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year at Ghani's request. The original plan called for that number being slashed to 5,500. Troop levels for 2016 will be decided later this year, Obama added.

"Providing this additional time frame during this fighting season, for us to be able to help the Afghanistan security forces succeed, is well worth it," Obama said.

The announcement comes as the spring fighting season begins and Islamic extremists continue to look towards Afghanistan as grounds for recruiting.

Ghani said keeping U.S. troop levels up "is what will guarantee that the investments over the last 14 years pay off."

The two leaders said they hoped to begin a "new chapter" in the relationship between the two countries. Ghani succeeds former President Hamid Karzai, whose rocky relationship with the White House made a America's longest war even more complicated.

Ghani used his visit to display a change in leadership style. He joined Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. He also thanked the American taxpayers for their sacrifices to begin the press conference.

"Tragedy brought us together, but interests now unite us," Ghani said.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news