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February 20, 2014

Report: Planned Cuts to Troop Levels in Afghanistan Threaten Stability

by VOA News

A new assessment of Afghanistan's future said Taliban insurgents will increasingly threaten stability in the country after international forces withdraw in December and that Kabul will need more troops than currently envisioned to provide basic security.

The study, released Thursday by a non-profit research group, warns that plans to shrink the size of the Afghan National Security Force would jeopardize the U.S. policy of preventing the country from becoming a haven for extremists.

The congressionally mandated study recommends that the United States and its international partners fund a larger, more expensive Afghan force than is currently planned beyond 2014.

Study co-author Jonathan Schroden told VOA the report found it is likely the Taliban insurgency will increase in strength over the next five years, largely due to the drawdown of international forces.

The United States and NATO are currently trying to finalize the shape of any international military mission that would stay in Afghanistan after December to support Afghan troops.

A final decision has been thrown into doubt by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States ahead of presidential elections in April.

Washington has said it would have to withdraw all American forces if no deal is signed.