The United States’ role in Afghanistan has come under much scrutiny lately. With a deadline for withdrawal set for 2014, there has been some disagreement over what the timetable will be and whether there will be any American presence after the date has passed. In an effort to settle some of the most pressing matters, President Barack Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday, reports The Associated Press.
No official announcement
While the two world leaders spent most of the day together, holding a private Oval Office meeting and a working lunch, the White House maintains that Obama will not make any official announcement as to what the next phase of troop withdrawals will be and whether there will be soldiers left in Afghanistan post-2014.
This has grown to be one of the biggest issues facing Obama’s national security team. Much of the military brass has recommended leaving at least 6,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014, but the White House doesn’t seem to be quite on board with the prospect.
Creating a smooth transition
Aside from discussing the future of American forces in Afghanistan, Obama brought up his changing national security team with Karzai, according to the AP. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are expected to officially leave their posts in the near future. Senator John Kerry and former Senator Chuck Hagel have been nominated for the two respective positions.
What progress has been made
The last 12 months have seen considerable changes in Afghanistan. A lengthy Pentagon report released last year touted the decline in enemy initiated attacks and the dent that the American troops made in the capacity of the insurgency.
“After a long and difficult path, we finally are, I believe, at the last chapter of establishing an Afghanistan, a sovereign Afghanistan, that can govern and secure itself for the future,” Panetta said at a recent press conference.
Challenges lie ahead
Although progress has been made, a number of challenges still face the United States and Afghanistan. Chiefly, the Afghan people still have to grapple with ongoing peace talks with the Taliban as well as upcoming elections.