The long-term US military presence in Afghanistan is likely to be a "light footprint" of about 10,000 American troops, boosted by a few thousand more soldiers from Nato allies, according to US media reports.
Most foreign combat troops are expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a deadline agreed by Nato and Kabul a few years ago. The White House favours keeping a small force on the ground for some years after that, although diplomats insist they are not seeking permanent bases. Troops would stay to train the Afghan security forces, which still need help with everything from bomb detection to medical evacuation and fuel supplies, and run counter-terrorism campaigns, particularly along the lawless border with Pakistan.
Plans are still tentative but senior officials in the Obama administration would like to keep about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported.
General John Allen, the commander of US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, has made a preliminary recommendation that 6,000 to 15,000 troops should stay on, the paper said.
Under the emerging plans, the counter-terrorism unit focused on al-Qaida could be under 1,000, the New York Times reported, leaving a substantial number of soldiers to support and train the Afghan police and army.For comparison, there are currently 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.