In a major policy reversal, President Obama has broken his pledge to voters that he would end the US presence in Afghanistan during his presidency. Admittedly, the target date of a reduction in forces from 9,800 to 5,500 by the end of December along with a complete withdraw by 2016 was arbitrary. The realities of a fledgling Afghanistan democracy posed great security risks. The administration has already grappled with the results of their speedy withdraw in Iraq which created the power vacuum filled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Brad Reifler knows that, in Iraq, the administration miscalculated on the readiness of the Iraqi regular army to combat the terrorists.
Afghanistan faces a similar dilemma against a season and well-trained Taliban insurgency bent on retaking the government and establishing Sharia law once again. The Afghanistan military is not prepared to defend itself without heavy US backing. In making his announcement, President Obama confessed the United States will continue to have a military presence in Afghanistan for the next three years. He also stated that the country would have a normalized (military) presence in the nation. The policy reversal comes after negotiations with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. President Ghani had expressed his deep reservations that Obama’s proposed troop withdrawal dates were arbitrary and did not allow his nation sufficient time to learn to defend itself against a dual threat from the Taliban and Al Qaeda. President Ghani will be visiting the White House later this week to meet with President Obama.