President Obama announced on May 27 that while most U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, about 9,800 will remain. Half of those will be withdrawn over the course of 2015, with those remaining to be stationed mainly at the U.S. base at Bagram Airfield or the capital of Kabul. The plan calls for withdrawing the remaining forces by the end of 2016, leaving fewer than 1,000 behind to guard the U.S. Embassy staff in Kabul.
“We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected,” Obama said during an appearance in the White House Rose Garden. “Now we’re finishing the job we’ve started.”
The president said that after this year, U.S. troops would no longer patrol Afghan cities, towns, or valleys.
U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan at that time had provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network and when the Taliban rejected a U.S. ultimatum that included delivering all of the leaders of al-Qaeda to the United States, U.S. forces invaded the nation. President Bush did not obtain a congressional declaration of war before launching the attack, but acted on a War Powers Resolution authorization.