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'6,000 to 20,000 US troops in Afghan after 2014'

January 03, 2013 11:52 IST

A top American commander based in Afghanistan has submitted plans to the Pentagon that would keep 6,000 to 20,000 US troops in the war-torn country after 2014.

Gen John Allen, the senior US commander in Afghanistan, has submitted his much awaited recommendations on the nature and strength of US presence in the country after 2014, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

While Pentagon Press Secretary George Little refused to divulge the number of US troops in Afghanistan post 2014 as recommended by General Allen, The New York Times quoting unnamed defence official reported to the figure to be between 6,000 and 20,000 troops.

"General Allen offered Defence Secretary Leon E Panetta three plans with different troop levels: 6,000, 10,000 and 20,000, each with a risk factor probably attached to it, a senior military official said," The New York Times said.

"An option of 6,000 troops would probably pose a higher risk of failure for the American effort in Afghanistan, 10,000 would be medium risk and 20,000 would be lower risk," the daily said quoting unnamed defence official.

However, the Pentagon refused to give any figure to the recommendations.

"Whatever that number is for post 2014 enduring presence, the decision would be taken in close consultations with our Afghan allies," he said.

"We hope to be able to reach the decision soon. Again this is a decision that would be made on the US side by the president," Little said.

"We look forward to President (Hamid) Karzai visit Washington sometime next week," he said.

Little said General Allen will be replaced by Gen Joseph Dunford in February. The latter has already been confirmed by the Senate.

However, he ruled out that this has anything to do with the investigation against him over a series of emails he exchanged with a socialite Jill Kelley.

Image: A sniper looks through his rifle's scope while keeping watch over Qarabagh district, north of Kabul
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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