US may leave no troops in Afghanistan
"As we know from our Iraq experience, if there are no authorities granted by the sovereign state, then there's not room for a follow-on US military mission,'' Lute said. He was referring to 2011 negotiations with Iraq that ended with no agreement to grant legal immunity to US troops who would have stayed to help train Iraqi forces. As a result, no US troops remain in Iraq.
David Barno, a former commander of US forces in Afghanistan and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote earlier this week that vigorous debate has been under way inside the administration on a "minimalist approach'' for post-2014 Afghanistan.
In an opinion piece for ForeignPolicy.com on Monday, Barno said the "zero option'' was less than optimal but "not necessarily an untenable one.'' Without what he called the stabilizing influence of US troops, Barno cautioned that Afghanistan could "slip back into chaos.''
Rhodes said Obama is focused on two main outcomes in Afghanistan: ensuring that the country does not revert to being the al-Qaeda haven it was prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and getting the government to the point where it can defend itself.
"That's what guides us, and that's what causes us to look for different potential troop numbers _ or not having potential troops in the country,'' Rhodes