(WASHINGTON) -- Although the Obama administration is still considering how many U.S. troops to leave in Afghanistan after 2014, there are reports that the residual force could fall well under 10,000. Some of the factors going into the decision include the failure of the Afghan government to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement and the relatively peaceful election process earlier this month in which the Taliban didn't exercise much muscle.
However, everything is a moot point if the new Afghan president fails to sign a post-war pact. White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson said in a statement, "The longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any US mission. Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 US mission will be smaller in scale and ambition."
Keeping a residual force in Afghanistan in a training and advisory role would help national forces repel attempts by the Taliban to destabilize the government. Furthermore, American soldiers are needed to protect CIA bases in Afghanistan where drone strikes are launched against militant targets in neighboring Pakistan.
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