By Chris Lawrence
Pentagon officials are considering a preliminary assessment by Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, on "what he needs going forward" in the country as the U.S. looks to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2014, a U.S. official tells CNN.
One of the options being considered is "to keep a force of roughly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan post-2014," according to the official who did not want to be identified discussing ongoing deliberations. The official said that force would comprise a small number of special operations forces dedicated to counterterrorism missions, while the remaining troops "would either continue to train and advise Afghan forces, or assist with logistical issues such as medical evacuations and air support operations."
The "10,000 option" is just one of several being examined, the official said. The options represented "different ends of the spectrum" in terms of troop levels, the official added, but the official did not provide any detail as to what those options are.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not presented a formal recommendation to the White House, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Monday. FULL POST
By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer
The fallout from the scandal involving now disgraced CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus and possible connection to top Afghan commander Gen. John Allen comes at a transition time for the Obama administration. Just a week after the election, one of Washington's favorite guessing games started as politicians, journalists and every other political wonk started to calculate who could be filling the major Cabinet positions that would be opening as some get set to step down. It raises the question of what effect all this could have on the country's national security.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton long ago announced she would be leaving and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, said this week that he does want to return to his home in California. Asked how long he plans to stick around the Pentagon, he responded to reporters, "Who the hell knows?"
In the military, regularly scheduled command changes were getting set as well, as Allen was moving to head the European Command and a new commander was preparing to take over in Afghanistan. Both have to be confirmed by the Senate and a confirmation hearing is set for Thursday with the Senate Armed Services Committee.
But in light of the scandal, is the president at risk of losing too much of his foreign policy brain trust as Petraeus departs and Allen works under the haze of an investigation?
An affair that caused the resignation of CIA director General Petraeus is just the latest in a list of scandals to engulf the military's highest ranking officials. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on how some at the top have strayed from the military's code of ethics.
The U.S. and Pakistan are "moving closer" to an agreement on re-opening border crossings into Afghanistan for NATO supplies, a senior U.S. official said Monday.
The official, who is not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive negotiations, says representatives from the two nations discussed the re-opening of ground supply routes into Afghanistan during meetings this weekend that included Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
A senior Pakistani government official also said an agreement is expected soon to reopen the supply routes. The official, familiar with the Pakistan-U.S. discussions, said the movement comes as a result of the recent talks. FULL POST
Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani complained to U.S. Gen. John Allen about Taliban incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan when he met the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, a Pakistani army source said Wednesday.
Kayani urged NATO to stop militants from crossing the border, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media.
Such action would help strengthen relations between the Pakistani armed forces and NATO, the source said Kayani told the American general.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States are tense, with Pakistanis especially frustrated by what they say are U.S. drone attacks on suspected militants in their country.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force did not immediately comment on the reported meeting.
With reporting from Larry Shaughnessy in Washington and Nasir Habib in Islamabad
Four suspected militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region Tuesday night, a government official and a military official told CNN (more on the drone strike here).
One of the items on the agenda for Allen's meeting Wednesday with Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is reopening the border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a Pakistani military official told CNN. The U.S. recently pulled its negotiating team from after failing to reach an agreement on reopening the border crossings.
Seven months ago, Pakistan stopped allowing U.S. military supplies to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan through what the United States calls the Ground Lines of Communications, or G-LOCS. FULL POST
By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer
In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.
The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.
The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.
Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The man in charge of the war in Afghanistan said Wednesday that about a quarter of the American troops there will begin coming home "very shortly."
Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that 23,000 of the 88,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan will be home by September 30, 2012.
The so-called Phase 2 drawdown is going to begin "very shortly," Allen told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.
When the drawdown is complete, ISAF will still have 65,000 U.S. troops available, plus about 40,000 troops from other ISAF nations like the UK, Canada and Germany.
By Adam Levine
Afghanistan and the United States may soon reach a deal over night raids that could increase Afghan control over and participation in the controversial operations, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports from Kabul.
Night raids are deeply unpopular among Afghans, but Gen. John Allen, who commands U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, recently told Congress how vital and frequent those raids are. FULL POST
By Larry Shaughnessy
One third of all American troop deaths in Afghanistan this year has been at the hands of Afghan security forces.
The latest occurred Monday when a man alleged to be a local Afghan policeman killed an American service member in eastern Afghanistan.