Dobbins: Total U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan unlikely
US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins
July 11th, 2013
12:58 PM ET

Dobbins: Total U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan unlikely

By Jamie Crawford

The Obama administration believes it will reach a deal with the government of Afghanistan that would allow American troops to remain in the country after the current NATO mission ends next year, the top U.S. diplomat in the region said Thursday.

The disclosure follows reports this week the administration was seriously considering an option of leaving no forces in the country after 2014.

"We do not believe that that's the likely outcome of these negotiations," James Dobbins, special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Pressed about reports on the so-called "zero option," Dobbins labeled them "unbalanced and unhelpful."

A Pentagon official testifying at the same hearing said the United States will continue working with the Afghan government on establishing a security agreement as well as training Afghan forces.

"The United States is transitioning in Afghanistan, not leaving," Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs said.

U.S. and Afghan officials have been discussing plans to keep a small force behind to fight insurgents and to train Afghan security personnel.

Dobbins said President Barack Obama is reviewing options for the number of American forces that would stay in Afghanistan 18 months from now.

"We've made significant progress on the text of a new bilateral security agreement. Of course, without an agreement on our presence in Afghanistan, we would not remain," he said.

A sticking point reported this week involves apparent tension over Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai has said he would like American forces to remain, but also has been highly critical of them over the years after incidents in which U.S. forces have killed civilians.

The U.S-Afghanistan relationship was also tested after news last month the United States and the Taliban planned peace talks. In response, Karzai cut off negotiations on the residual troop presence.

Dobbins said there was not much of a parallel between the situation in Iraq when U.S. military operations ended and the current scenario in Afghanistan.

"Unlike Iraq, to which comparisons are often made, the Afghans actually need us to stay. Most Afghans want us to stay. And we have promised to stay," he said.

U.S. forces have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • NATO
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. KILROY WAS HERE

    Quite right, Tom. It seems to be a consequence of the politicization of war and our military. Once there was common purpose in defending this nation and It's allies when genuinely necessary. Now that everythings political, every move must be sold by politicians who fear the outcome of the next election more than
    the outcome of the latest war, or diplomatic crisis. And if it's too politically risky to take proposals of war before congress, one just declares the need for executive action, and cleans up the political fallout later with promises of withdrawal during an ongoing war! Which makes us look like the world's most powerful cowards and biggest idiots.

    July 16, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  2. KILROY WAS HERE

    The elephant in the room here is, Why do we advertise ANY time frame to pull out of ANY occupied land? Our enemies can then plan their stratagies around sensative information that we've freely handed over. Such planned withdrawals make us look weak in the eyes of most of the world, and send the message that if you can just out-wait us, you can defy our military efforts and cause all our spent blood and treasure to have been in vain.

    July 16, 2013 at 11:35 am | Reply
    • tom

      Always thought that was dumb. When I was in the Navy, discussing troop movement was something you could get severely punished for. But they have been doing this since Vietnam.

      July 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  3. helenecha

    Will the U.S. have no regrets for training Afghan forces once Afghan proves to have little mutual interests in what the U.S. believes in?

    July 16, 2013 at 12:10 am | Reply
  4. Mansor

    staying or getting out of Afghanistan now doesn't make a significant difference or change. US is defeated in war in Afghanistan and Iraq. this is a reality that no one can ignore it, i appreciate the people of US and other European countries who lost their sons and beloved in Afghanistan and Iraq. but it's all about the rubbish strategy of their governments. They were in Afghanistan to build the country and finish terrorism BUT WHAT is the ACHIEVEMENTS ?? the Taliban is stronger than ever. the billion of dollars that some of you guys are talking about has not been spend for Afghanistan, go and search 84% of over all budget spend in Afghanistan (but not for Afghanistan) was the military expenses of their own troops. one of the reasons of war in Afghanistan and Iraq was simply for creating more employment opportunities to overcome with unemployment challenges in their respective countries. the other 16% of the budget that have been spend in Afghanistan was through the international organizations which their admin cost of each project was reaching up to 70%. like a simple joke it was like showing the money to Afghanistan and taking them back to US/EU by military expenses and or high salaries for nominal international advisers for various international organizations for doing nothing. if you go deep to the issue you will see that Taliban is indirectly supported by US itself. rather than fighting and destroying with roots of the problem they are bombing the branches of problem and killing civilians. USA has been supporting the Pakistan ISI since inception of ISI , and Pakistan ISI is directly involved with Taliban, any attack on military forces and civilian people has been designed by ISI and implemented by Taliban. Mr Obama and Karzi are very interested in peace negotiation with Taliban, but what is the people demand? no one cares. there is no peace negotiation it is escaping strategy called peace negotiation. still as an Afghan i appreciate the people of the world for their support to Afghanistan but i condemn the wrong and unfruitful strategy of war any where in the world.

    July 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • Mustafa

      Afghans are free to do what they want to do......girls are going to school....the economic, political and social situation of the country has rapidly improved, Now Afghanistan has an army a police force , democracy , people have the right to speak, freedom of media, freedom of speech and much more............<<<<<<< Arent all these achievements ?if you still believe in some mad idea then you are disrespecting all those Afghan and American brave soles who have lost their lives in making all that a reality.

      July 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  5. simplefaith

    Bring our troops home for good. The region have been fighting each other for hundreds of years.

    July 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  6. Paul Ryan

    But, VP Biden said in the debates "The US will be completely out of Afghanistan in 2014, PERIOD." Why would he lie?

    July 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  7. OnTheRoad

    Why on earth would we 'Want' to leave troops there? We have 'Wasted' enough blood of our young people in that country!!!!

    July 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      I say "Get out, and get out completely". Sure, the Afghan people may appreciate us and want us to stay, but the people we have to deal with is the "democratically elected" government of Afghanistan who wants us out of their way!

      Russia failed (thanks to US stupidity) now we have failed. Yes, we did not achieve any goals except making Karsi a very wealthy man. The Russans did discover huge copper resources while they were there. Of course, the US insisted that bids to recover this copper should be "fair". Who won? China!
      Now it is time to turn over Afghanistan to China, since China will get their resources.

      July 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • lweba

        Yeah China, they can send 2m foot soldiers into Afghanistan and by the shear numbers they will win the war or annex Afghanistan to their country.

        July 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  8. lance

    sounds like another broken promise from obama, why cant he work on fixing the economy and national debt instead of involving america in expensive islamic civil wars ?

    July 13, 2013 at 10:06 am | Reply
    • Pete

      @lance,its hard bud to get anything comprehensive passed when republicans are so adamant in their stance not passing anything the president puts out in job,infastructure bills that will help America and its citizens back on their feet..Talk to your obstructionistic,unpatriotic republicans before going after Pres.Obama because most of these necessary bills to help America and its citizens are brought up and voted on well before Pres.Obama ever gets to see them..

      July 13, 2013 at 11:06 am | Reply
  9. HZ

    I am from Afghanistan and I work with US Forces! What you people are saying here is a scenario you have been fed up by your controlled media. Nobody is here to help Afghan people and there has been no help to Afghans yet. If US has spent billions here, they have made a profit of trillions here. There were three uranium hills in three places, Helmand and Kabul provinces that has been surrounded by US military compound and the whole hill were transported to US, one gold mine in Kandahar from where Osama toke lots of gold and the remaining were taken by US. Americans are making trillions of US dollar from Opium of Helmand each year. And now when there is a turn to do some good and pay for what you have taken you are turning your back. As far as Taliban is concerned, they are also your agents to achieve your goals. I am sorry for all Americans because they don't have a small idea on what their corporate controlled government is doing to them, let me tell you, your government is spending your money on war and your corporate and businessmen is getting the outcome. Please leave drinking and virtual joys for a night in week and think what is done to you everyday and think that you people are working like machines to feed a bunch of billionaires. It is a big sin of not knowing what has is done and being done to you.

    July 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Reply
    • Tom from Canonsburg

      No argument from me. I know of some of what you are saying and suspect things that you do not mention. In my travels in Europe and the Middle East, I hear & see many things that are not common knowledge here in the States. The USA has done much good in the world, but we have itizens that have done harm simply out of greed. Those greedy Americans have been a terrible example of what our people are are. The American people have sacrificed many, many citizens protecting numerous countries, but it seems that in recent years it's only been because of the resources there. Walk in Peace

      July 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Hey, I believe you!!! All the aid money sent to help "the people" goes into Karsai's pocket. No accountability, just send more and more money! Does Karsai even care about his own people? Likely not! If you ever have another "election", be careful who you vote for! This is Egypt's problem today. They got what they voted for without knowing what the hell they were voting for.

      July 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  10. hifyl3r

    Wow, they hope they can make a deal. Oh goodie. Let's see ... we get the chance to have more of our soldier's legs blown off, and they get billions of dollars for projects that hey will just steal. I'm so proud to have people like this leading my country.

    As for having to go back, if we pull out. We proved we can do it with GPS munitions, special forces, and paying the right factions. Next time, we level the place and get the hell out. No more Marshall plans for Muslims. Thats a burden we don't need to carry any more going forward. Live and learn (the hard way) I guess.

    July 12, 2013 at 9:51 am | Reply
  11. GOP is still garbage

    I wonder if Middle Eastern countries care what the American public really thinks? Oh, sorry just day dreaming. But if there is any ME blogger here... the answer is simple...

    The American public DO NOT care about, despises, and cannot find ways to ignore what happens to you or your country/ies. We have wasted our time and lots of money helping a cave-like society that could care less to join the rest of the world into the 2013 era.

    You are lucky we do not coupe our politicians like you do, so all the aid will stop TODAY!

    July 12, 2013 at 8:46 am | Reply
    • HZ

      I am from Afghanistan and I work with US Forces! What you people are saying here is a scenario you have been fed up by your controlled media. Nobody is here to help Afghan people and there has been no help to Afghans yet. If US has spent billions here, they have made a profit of trillions here. There were three uranium hills in three places, Helmand and Kabul provinces that has been surrounded by US military compound and the whole hill were transported to US, one gold mine in Kandahar from where Osama toke lots of gold and the remaining were taken by US. Americans are making trillions of US dollar from Opium of Helmand each year. And now when there is a turn to do some good and pay for what you have taken you are turning your back. As far as Taliban is concerned, they are also your agents to achieve your goals. I am sorry for all Americans because they don't have a small idea on what their corporate controlled government is doing to them, let me tell you, your government is spending your money on war and your corporate and businessmen is getting the outcome. Please leave drinking and virtual joys for a night in week and think what is done to you everyday and think that you people are working like machines to feed a bunch of billionaires. It is a big sin of not knowing what has is done and being done to you.

      July 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  12. Tank_Commander

    That little voice in the head of congress should get louder each day: "get out, get out GET OUT!"

    July 12, 2013 at 8:37 am | Reply
  13. saeed

    soon all western countrys are going to get destroyed usa britain ireland dublin norway oslo ghana australia all of them are going to get nuked booom one blow to the head and its gameover sadly usa and britain are to big of a coward to start a real war so they talk and talk some moore.

    July 12, 2013 at 5:58 am | Reply
    • maximusvad

      Angry rant much ? Time to come out of your Moms basement.

      July 12, 2013 at 7:25 am | Reply
    • Pete

      @saeed,I think you need some more education bud especially in wriiting..Your ranting is far from being coherent as well..Try putting dome commas,periods in your sentences you'll more believable later..And trust me saeed America, Britain aren't cowards your ignorent Muslims who hide behind religion are the ones not only not being trustworthy but cowardice as well always hiding behind scarfs to hide their childish intellect!!!!

      July 12, 2013 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • GOP is still garbage"

      You are a troll attempting to stir a response. Thank you, but no thank you.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
  14. TrustKnow1

    Research the "Baghdad Pact" of post WW2 concerning the Middle Eastern Treay Organization and you'll discover the reason why we're in Iraq. Afghanistan has enough natural resources to supply the electronic/computer industry for the next 100 yrs. the oil cartels want to run pipelines from the Caspian Sea thru Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean thru Pakistan. And Britain needs to keep the opium growing to maintain their control of the worldwide heroin market. As for our soldiers, I greatly appreciate your willingness to defend us civilians, but in reality, you're fighting and dieing for the international banking cartel (bankstas).

    July 12, 2013 at 3:15 am | Reply
  15. Khusboo Anjum Khan

    Uncle Sam is big and strong with a big hard military which my Pakistan likes it from behind hard and long time.
    What lady, even Afghan would not like it?
    There is no reason for you to "pull out" so fast sailor. You just stick it into my wet swat valley until you squirt your load of freedom all over Pakistan then you can stick it in from front and ride her like she was a bad donkey.
    Pakistan want to love you long time in every position. Only them we will be satisfied.

    July 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • GOP is still garbage

      Please ignore this troll. Khan post is not a real ME blogger. It's a troll instigating.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:36 am | Reply
  16. Pete

    Karzi doesn't want us there just the foriegn that matters..It's time to shut down the MIC and put American money where it could be put to better use,right here!!!

    July 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  17. Frank, KY

    I understand the above comments, however, what you are asking and what the government is suggesting defeats the purpose of every taking history course from kindergarden all the way through high school, and for those that went beyond. History is supposed to show us the mistakes and accomplishments from the past so that we can learn from them. We should always try to avoid the mistakes and replicate our accomplishments. The suggestions above indicates that we as a nation are willing to go through actions that would only re-create a mistake made in the past. Before eveyone gets on board with a complete troop withdraw, you have to look at where we are, how we got there, and where it could be going. Please, take a moment just to research what transpired in the 1980's when American Forces helped Afghan Civilians remove Russion Forces from thier land. After the mission was complete, we left that country to thier own demise. We left it in the hands of warlords. Leaving now, it only produces that same effect in the since that Hamid Karzai himself was once and could potentially still be seen as a warlord. I fought in Afghanistan for two tours while on active duty in the Army, and I understand the frustration of those here at home, most prominently those who are emotionally attached to those soldiers, but they still, and I still believe in what they are fighting for. If we leave now, then the replication of the mistake is on the government and those that swiftly support that decision, and then when the next generation, which would encompass my two sons, are in Afghanistan, then we have done nothing differently than what our parents and leaders prior to us have done. Please just take a moment to think about the ramifications of any rash decision concerning the troop withdraw. Solders, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors, my prayers go out to you, and I await your safe return, keep your heads down and lets get done what needs to be done for a better America and a better future for our young ones.

    July 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Tax payer and voter

      Can you understand that many of us that have served in AFG also DO NOT care about what happens to them if we leave?

      There is no "finish the mission" anymore. Sometimes you have to count your losses and go home with your head high. Trust me...I was there too. And after you get attacked by the same idiots that you employ AND FEED, your morale goes south.

      Yes! the frustration is high and that's because the American public CANNOT and will not support plain stupidity. You have to learn to let go at some point.

      July 12, 2013 at 9:04 am | Reply
  18. George patton

    No surprise here! Anyone with half a brain knows that the right-wing thugs in Washington have no intention of getting out of Afghanistan or even Iraq which we're still running the government and military by proxy through the use of the so-called "Sons of Iraq", former members of the Iraqi insurgency and private "security" firms!!!

    July 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Your stupidity is amazing. We caused all of this the first time we bailed out on Afghanistan. Do you think the results will be different?

      July 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
      • George patton

        Don't you believe USMC1371, that our so-called "victory" in Iraq was largely bought and paid for? Of course it was! We paid most of the insurgents there to switch sides. As for Afghanistan, we need to do as the Russians did in 1989, that is, just simply to phase our military out of there!

        July 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
      • USMC1371

        You know what Fu@k it why do I care if they implode and in a few years we need up putting boots on the ground to stop the murder of civilians. Then we will be made out to be the bad evil west trying to control the world.

        July 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Infantry08

      I talk from your comment about the SOI ( sons on Iraq) that you never served in Iraq or if you did you never left a F.O.B.? if you don't know why I ask then I will not explain because your lack of experiance in the matter dictates that you should close your mouth.

      July 11, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Reply
      • USMC1371

        DD214 in 1998 I played in Iraq the first go around while you where still in diapers. So yes I do know because guess what? If we don't finish it right this time we will be going back.

        July 11, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  19. BILL, WI

    Twelve years is enough time to get the govt pointed in the direction. It took almost two centuries to form the basis for our military, thats true, but twelve years is still enough time to at least train the Afghan trainers. Its time for the Afghans to take control of their own destiny.

    July 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  20. 7th Congressional District, Virginia

    Why? Leave this rat hole in the 5th century and get on with life.

    July 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Reply

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