Is Afghanistan trending down? Will impending conflicts with the Taliban destabilize the country?
There are around 50,000 American troops in Afghanistan, but that level will drop to 34,000 by February under orders from President Obama. As part of a commitment to helping the Afghans secure the elections, the number of American troops would then hold steady at the 34,000 level and not drop further until next July, according to the senior official.
NATO has endorsed an enduring force of 8,000 to 12,000 troops to advise, assist and train Afghan forces. It is expected that about two thirds of those troops would be American. But it is thought that no coalition nations would extend the mission without the United States remaining under a new security agreement with the Afghans.
At the crux of the debate are two American demands: to maintain legal jurisdiction over American troops, and to be able to continue direct counterterrorism missions on Afghan soil.