United States Not Leaving Afghanistan, Says Pentagon Chief

The US is not leaving Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said.

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US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (Photo: Reuters)

The US is not leaving Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said, while asserting that such a narrative is “self-defeating”. Carter told an Army conference in Washington,

The narrative that we’re leaving Afghanistan is self-defeating. We’re not. We can’t, and to do so would be to not take advantage of the success had to date.
— Ashton Carter, US Defense Secretary

The US, he said, is in the process of formulating options for 2016 and beyond, and making adjustments to the planned American presence based on current circumstances.

It’s not a question of whether, but how to continue the mission in Afghanistan, and last week, it became clear that our NATO allies feel the same way, as they told me. Many of my counterparts made a point of reaffirming their commitment, too. When I submit my 2017 budget, I will include critical financial support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to help it sustain its force levels of 352,000 troops in 2017 and beyond.
— Ashton Carter

Despite the Army’s commendable work through ‘Resolute Support’, Taliban advances in parts of the country underscore the reality that this is, and remains, a difficult fight, he noted.

We understand that Afghanistan still needs assistance, and Resolute Support is working closely with the ANDSF and Afghan security ministries to ensure that they’re prepared to set the conditions for Afghan-led stability in this vital region. No one can do this better than the Army, which has learned a lot about counter-terrorism operations, local forces training and related operational skills over the course of two wars, and is best equipped to establish a lasting and effective platform in Afghanistan.
— Ashton Carter

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