Washington: The US may station a small force in Afghanistan post-2014 but America's longest war will finally be over by the end of this year, US President Barack Obama said today.
In his annual State of the Union Address to the Congress, Obama said a small force would remain in the war-torn country but did not give the number of the US troops that would be stationed in Afghanistan after 2014 drawdown.
Obama, in his address, reiterated that the US troops will be engaged in carrying out training, assisting Afghan forces and in counter-terrorism operations to pursue any remnants of the al-Qaeda.
"If the Afghan government signs a (bilateral) security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counter-terrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al-Qaeda," Obama said.
"For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country," Obama said, noting that after 2014 US will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future.
Obama said more than 60,000 of its troops have already come home from Afghanistan. "With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America's longest war will finally be over," he said.
Referring to America's war against terrorism, Obama said the US was still not safe. "The fact is, that danger remains. While we have put al- Qaeda's core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al-Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world.
"In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks," Obama said. "In Syria, we'll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we'll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyber attacks. And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions," he said.