Defense Department officials say that Gen. John Allen, the current commander of the occupation of Afghanistan, has submitted a series of three proposals for continuing the occupation with varying troop levels past 2014.
President Obama signed a deal to keep troops in Afghanistan through 2024, but the exact levels have yet to be determined. Gen. Allen’s proposals start with a “high risk” version of 6,000 troops and scale up with a 10,000 and a 20,000 alternative.
Of course all troops aren’t created equal, and the 6,000 proposal relies on the assumption that the troops would be all Special Operations forces continuing combat on the ground, while the larger versions add trainers and other ground troops.
Currently the US has about 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, meaning that any of these proposals would see fewer troops overall in the nation. Such proposals remain largely speculative, however, as 60,000 are expected to remain through much of 2013, and the big drawdown is expected to come on the basis of an oft-predicted calm that never seems to materialize. The Afghan government has been talking with Pakistan about coming to an arrangement giving the Taliban several provinces for a peace deal, but whether this will ultimately happen is unclear.