President Obama announced his Afghanistan drawdown plans on Wednesday night. The 10,000 American troops he will withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year “is more than the military wanted … but it is doable without any major impact on the ground plan this year,” according to Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, who served as the senior American commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. The plan to withdraw an additional 20,000 troops by the end of next summer has the military more concerned, however, since summer is peak fighting season. The military had planned to move troops to the east in 2012 to secure the vulnerable border with Pakistan, but the goal may no longer be viable as the mission now shifts toward counterterrorism work—a role not so different than the one Vice President Joe Biden argued for in 2009. Still, the U.S. hopes to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to keep up to 25,000 troops in the country after 2014, largely to keep an eye on Pakistan.
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