Gen. Martin Dempsey, who arrived at Bagram Air Field on Saturday after an overnight flight, said that assessment will inform U.S. decisions about how many American troops should remain after the U.S. and NATO combat role ends in December 2014.
The U.S. is expected to keep between 9,000 and 10,000 in a residual force, but no final decision has been made.
Dempsey was expected to meet with U.S. and allied commanders, including the new overall commander of coalition forces, Gen. Joseph Dunford. He also planned to meet with Afghan officials and talk with soldiers in the field.
Dempsey said Friday in Stuttgart, Germany, that he would like to see how Afghan forces perform this summer before determining the size of a residual U.S. force. There are now about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, down from a 2010 peak of about 100,000.
White House focus on Asia bolstered
WASHINGTON — North Korea’s latest outburst of nuclear and military threats has given the U.S. a rare opportunity to build bridges with China — a potential silver lining to the simmering crisis that could revitalize the Obama administration’s flagging policy pivot to Asia.
The architect of the administration’s Asia policy described a subtle change in Chinese thinking as a result of Pyongyang’s recent nuclear tests, rocket launches and abandonment of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war with South Korea.
Pyongyang has taken similar actions in the past, prompting Washington to step up military readiness in the region to soothe allies South Korea and Japan. But in an unusual rebuke this week, Beijing called North Korea’s moves “regrettable” — amounting to a slap from Pyongyang’s strongest economic and diplomatic supporter.
“They, I think, recognize that the actions that North Korea has taken in recent months and years are in fact antithetical to their own national security interests,” former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told a panel Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.