U.S. Troop Levels in Afghanistan Now in Play

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The White House and Pentagon won’t admit it, but everybody else knows the size and scope of the continuing U.S. presence in Afghanistan is now subject to debate. That’s the result of a perfect storm of factors — the killing of Osama bin Laden, the weariness of the American public, and the continuing zaniness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The official plan calls for a minor reduction in the U.S. troops presence — now about 100,000 — beginning in July. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have proposed sending 5,000 of those home in July, with another 5,000 to follow by year’s end. But if the field commanders are proposing a 10% cut in 2010, that’s simply the opening gambit. Others are talking about 30,000 — 30%.

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