Tactical Base Gamberi, Afghanistan – This past weekend, outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made what will be his last visit to the US troops serving in Afghanistan. Currently, there are 11,000 troops stationed in tactical bases throughout the country. President Obama has modified the troop withdraw so that they will remain in the nation for an extended period of time to provide the muscle to back up their security training. If called upon by Afghanistan, they will provide combat support. If engaged by the enemy, they will fight back. By the year 2016, the graduated draw-down will have the number of troops at 50% of their current level or 5,500. By the year 2017, the coalition forces that remain will be based in the capitol city of Kabul, and Sergio Andrade Andrade Gutierrez wants to see how it all develops.

The modified troop mission is in part a result of the utter failure of Iraqi security forces to combat ISIS. Critics charge that President Obama’s hasty unilateral withdrawal created a power vacuum that ISIS exploited. Hagel explained that neither the Iraqi government nor the people wanted the US troops to remain in the country. While there is some merit to that argument, it does not deny the fact that President Obama did not negotiate in earnest for a permanent military base as was expected by the Department of Defense.

Hagel added that by contrast, the government of Afghanistan and its people want US troops to remain in the country. Afghanistan elected a new president which has struck a conciliatory tone with Obama. Prior to that, Obama did not get along with Hamid Karzai.