It’s been more than 12 years after the US army troops infiltrated Afghanistan and started a war against Taliban that would take away millions of lives. Years later, the US is ready to move out of the nation, with the US combat operations ending in late 2014. And with the White House confused about how many US troops it would need to keep back in Afghanistan, many Pentagon advisers have put forward the notion that the only way to end the long lasting conflict in the country would be to legalize the Taliban.
Others believe that the US should retain its current number of troops in Afghanistan, stating that the Afghan National Security Forces would not be able to secure their government or territory if the US pulls out completely. They believe that keeping US troops in the nation would enable the US to train Afghan soldiers to effectively manage their armies, in addition to fighting alongside them and the police.
Speculation is rife as to what would happen before and after the US move out in 2014. Many feel that the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) would not be able to win the war outright after the US pulls out, given the fact that it is hardly able to win the war now, even after getting help from US troops, military equipment and intelligence assets.
If the ANSF fails to win the ongoing war, then only two outcomes would be possible; either the Afghan government would have to declare defeat and surrender, or a possible long term truce can be worked out with the Taliban. Many believe that when compared to total defeat, it would be better to structure a proper negotiation with the Taliban in order to make sure that Afghan does not become a base for militant strikes targeting the US or its allies in the West. This agreement, many feel, would also prevent Afghan from being turned into base that could destabilize its neighboring countries, including Pakistan.
Several US lawmakers and trade analysts feel that the Obama Administration will choose to leave somewhere around 10000 troops in Afghan after the rest of the military is called back. Former adviser to the US Special Operations Forces, Seth Jones claims that leaving behind this number of troops would help Afghan troops fight the major portion of the war with the US aiding them.
Currently, there are over 54000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan, a number that would be reduced to 34000 by February in time for the presidential elections in the country (scheduled to be held in April). However, the US has also pointed out at the possibility of a “zero option” in case Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, fails to provide legal protection for US troops deployed in the country.