KABUL (AFP) – An additional 1,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan next year to meet a temporary shortfall in NATO forces, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday during a visit to Kabul.
President Barack Obama approved the move despite an earlier plan to limit the US force to a maximum of 9,800 troops in 2015.
A protracted Afghan election delayed the signing of security deals with the United States and NATO countries, which set back plans for Western governments to contribute troops to the post-2014 mission, Hagel said.
“President Obama has provided US military commanders the flexibility to manage any temporary force shortfalls that we might experience for a few months as we allow for coalition troops to arrive,” he told a press conference.
“This will mean the delayed withdrawal of up to 1,000 US troops – so that up to 10,800 troops, rather than 9,800, could remain in Afghanistan through the end of this year, and for the first few months of next year.”