At first the military hoped there might be as many as 20,000 U.S. troops left behind after combat operations in Afghanistan officially cease at the end of 2014. But now an administration official is saying that number will not exceed 10,000 and could be even be zero.
That will likely mean between 3,000 to 6,000 troops. But remember Iraq, where everyone was predicting a sizable presence, and that was cut to nothing on the military side–outside of the embassy.
What we will see in the coming months is how fast the drawdown occurs. We have around 66,000 troops there right now. The president would like to reduce that fairly quickly over the next few years so there is not sudden departure of all the troops.
Gen. John Allen, who will be gone from Afghanistan next month, wants to hang onto them as long as possible. My guess is that a sizable force will remain through this fighting season, and then it will be fairly rapid drawdown.