And down goes another campaign pledge!

Today President Obama held a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to announce that the United States will maintain its 9800 troop count in Afghanistan through the end of the year. The President had previously promised to reduce that troop count to 5500.


Troop levels for 2016 will be decided later this year.

We’re changing the game again, but we’re not quite sure about the details. Sounds about right—but I’m not sure it’s unwarranted. In Afghanistan, Ghani is looking at the beginning of what is known as the “spring fighting season,” wherein extremists look to Afghanistan for the purposes of recruitment. This may be another broken promise on Obama’s part, but this isn’t “tweak” in existing plans; the entire drawdown was scrapped, ostensibly because Ghani asked for help.

No small deal.

This was Ghani’s first trip to the United States since being elected; during his time here he signaled a significantly different approach to the US-Afghani relationship than was used by former President Hamid Karzai.

More from CNN:

“The institutional gains that would be achieved through the (training), advise and (assisting) role is what will guarantee that the investments of the last 14 years pay off,” Ghani said during Tuesday’s press conference.

Ghani also discussed his country’s need for support during a Monday press conference with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

“Peace is our goal, but peace from strength, an enduring peace that will bring regional cooperation,” Ghani said, acknowledging that President Obama will make the decision on troop numbers.

“What we have emphasized and agreed is that we are strategic partners. We are bound by common interests and will act together to ensure both the safety of United States and the safety of Afghanistan. That is the important consideration. Numbers are a means; they are not an end in themselves,” Ghani said.

We’ll keep you updated on how the new strategic plan “evolves” over the coming weeks.