The plan was for the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2014. However, this withdrawal may not be as full as planned.
US troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan
A National Security adviser has said that the U.S. will help defend the country militarily for approximately a decade after the Afghans take control of their own security.
Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Mr Karzai’s top security adviser, has said that a new strategic pact has been agreed between the U.S. and Afghanistan. Part of this pact implies that the U.S. will not use the country to launch attacks on other countries in the region, including drone strikes.
However he did stress that the U.S. will only aid Afghanistan if approved by Kabul.
Spanta said that Washington may use “diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means.”
The agreement included financial support to the Afghan security forces after 2014 and the U.S. will pay up to US$4 billion annually, if this funding is approved by Congress.
According to Al-Akhbar, U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said: "Our goal is an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity and that contributes to our shared goal of defeating Al-Qaeda and its extremist affiliates. We believe this agreement supports that goal."
However, it is still unclear as to whether Afghanistan would approve such U.S. military assistance. In the wake of a number of incidents involving U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan, the two countries are facing a serious setback in their relations.
Digital Journal reported on the massacre in Kandahar where 17 Afghan villagers were killed in a nighttime killing spree. At that time, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to get his troops out of Afghanistan in a “responsible way,” in order to make sure there will be no need to get back in.
Other incidents included the accidental burning of the Koran, photos that were released to the media of U.S. troops urinating on dead bodies and more recently, photos of soldiers posing with dead body parts which were released to the L.A. Times.
All these incidents add to the tension between the two countries.
It has been promised for a while that the U.S. will withdraw its troops by 2014 and hand over control to the Afghans. In February of this year, the U.S. Department of Defense even stated that they were planning a complete withdrawal of the troops by the end of 2013.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had said that the remaining troops were planned to be transited from a “combat role to a training, advise-and-assist role.”
However it now seems likely that - as happened in Iraq - the U.S. will be staying longer than initially planned and anticipated.