by American Forces Press Service
2/27/2014 - WASHINGTON -- President
Barack Obama today informed Afghan President Hamid Karzai that because
the Afghan leader has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign
the bilateral security agreement on a U.S. military presence in
Afghanistan beyond this year, he has asked the Pentagon to ensure that
it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by
the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in
Afghanistan after 2014.
In a summary of the Obama-Karzai phone call released to reporters, White
House officials said Obama is leaving open the possibility of
concluding a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan later this
"However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will
be to plan and execute any U.S. mission," they added. "Furthermore, the
longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any
post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition."
Soon after, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a statement expressing his "strong support" for the president's decision.
"This is a prudent step, given that President Karzai has demonstrated
that it is unlikely that he will sign the bilateral security agreement,
which would provide DOD personnel with critical protections and
authorities after 2014," the secretary said. He also commended the
efforts of Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commander of U.S.
forces and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in
Afghanistan, and other military leaders to provide flexibility to the
president as the United States works to determine the future of the U.S.
presence in Afghanistan.
"As the United States military continues to move people and equipment
out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several
months will provide various options for political leaders in the United
States and NATO," Hagel said in his statement. "And during this time,
DOD will still continue planning for U.S. participation in a NATO-led
mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan security
forces, as well as a narrowly focused counterterrorism mission."
The United States will consult closely with NATO allies and ISAF
partners in the months ahead, he added, noting that he looks forward to
discussing U.S. planning with NATO and ISAF defense ministers in
Brussels this week.