From: Lalit K. Jha [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 11:42 AM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO
Cc: Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO ; Gabriel, Brian A. Jr. EOP/WHO
Subject: Foreign Pool Report -- Afghanistan
POTUS arrived in the Roosevelt Room at 11.04. Stand by his side were VPOTUS Joe Biden and Def Sec Ashton Carter.Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff was also present.
POTUS took one question after his announcement on Afghanistan that he would continue to maintain same troop level – 9,800 – till the end of 2016 and post 2016 will maintain 5,500 troops at a small number bases, including at Bagram, Jalalabad in the east, and Kandahar in the south.
Please check official transcripts. Below are a few highlights from POTUS remarks
"Afghan forces continued to hold most urban areas. And when the Taliban has made gains, as in Kunduz, Afghan forces backed by coalition support have been able to push them back. This has come at a very heavy price. This year alone, thousands of Afghan troops and police have lost their lives as have many Afghan civilians. At the same time, Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be."
"Pressure from Pakistan has resulted in more Al Qaida coming into Afghanistan, and we have seen the emergence of an ISIL presence. In key areas of the country, the security situation is still very fragile. In some places there is risk of deterioration."
"First, I have decided to maintain our current posture of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, 2016. Their mission will not change. Our troops will continue to pursue those two narrow tasks that I outlined earlier: training Afghan forces and going after Al Qaida."
"But maintaining our current posture through most of next year, rather than a more rapid drawdown will allow us to sustain our efforts to train and assist Afghan forces as they grow stronger not only during this fighting season, but into the next one."
"Second, I've decided that instead of going down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul by the end of 2016, we will maintain 5,500 troops, a small number of bases, including at Bagram, Jalalabad in the east, and Kandahar in the south. Again, the mission will not change. Our troops will focus on training Afghans and counterterrorism operations, but these bases will give us the presence and the reach our forces require to achieve their mission."
"Third, we will work with allies and partners to align the steps I'm announcing today with their own presence in Afghanistan after 2016."
"And finally, because governance and development remain the foundation for stability and progress in Afghanistan, we will continue to support President Ghani and the national unity government as they pursue critical reforms."
POTUS left the rook at 11.21 a.m.
With warm rgds,
Lalit K Jha,
Chief US Correspondent,
Press Trust of India (PTI) >www.ptinews.com<
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