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DoD close to giving Obama new Afghanistan troop recommendation

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that he has given Defense Secretary Ash Carter a recommendation about the troop level in Afghanistan beyond the end of this year.

Gen. Joseph Dunford said that recommendation includes input from Gen. Lloyd Austin, the outgoing commander of U.S Central Command, and Gen. John Campbell, the former leader of the fight in Afghanistan. Gen. John Nicholson, who succeeded Campbell in that role, also contributed to the recommendation.

Dunford declined to say what was in the recommendation during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, but said that “at some point we’ll bring those recommendations forward to the president.”

There are currently nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, who will remain there for most of 2016. Late this year, the administration had planned to draw down to about 5,500 U.S. forces, but increased violence from the Taliban and an inability of the Afghan Security Forces to fill some roles, like air support and intel collection, have caused some to question if that plan needs to be revised.

More from the Washington ExaminerDuring his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Nicholson told senators that he would seek to get on the ground and have a plan for Afghanistan within 90 days of taking over the job.

But Dunford stressed that no one in the military is prepared to wait 90 days as time ticks down to make decisions about force levels in 2017.

“We can’t wait 90 days for an assessment in Afghanistan before we move forward,” he said. “We ought to be making changes all the time to be successful.”

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