Terms of the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan (February-April)
The administration has pledged to end the combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but Obama wants to keep approximately 10,000 troops and military experts there to provide continued assistance and training inside the violent country.
But that will only occur if the government of President Hamid Karzai signs a security agreement, which was negotiated in 2012. Karzai, a mercurial leader who must step down after a successor is elected in April, has stalled for months, exasperating White House and Pentagon planners, who have been seeking his signature since last year.
The Taliban and Iran have urged Karzai not to sign the pact. Administration officials have told Karzai publicly and privately that no U.S. or NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan to help defend against extremists beyond 2014 if his government does not sign a bilateral security agreement soon.
NATO defense chiefs met in Brussels last week and collectively sent Afghanistan a similar message: “There are no doubts about our commitment to Afghanistan post-2014, as part of a broad international community effort,” said Gen. Knud Bartels, chairman of the NATO Military Committee. “So the sooner the legal framework is agreed on, the better it will be for the continuation of our planning.”