STUTTGART, Germany – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rejecting suggestions that the military should have greater flexibility to rethink its complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2016 based on the conditions in the country.
Hagel says President Barack Obama's decision to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan to less than 5,000 by the end of 2015 and to about 1,000 after 2016 will stand.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan told Congress that commanders didn't recommend a hard date for the troop withdrawal at the end of 2016 and would rather re-evaluate the decisions based on conditions there. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said the state of the insurgent threat and the condition of the Afghan forces should be considered.
Hagel says commanders always need some flexibility but the drawdown decisions have been made.