Between October 2001 and January 2009, troop levels averaged under 20,000 in Afghanistan, with a peak of 32,800. After January 2009, Obama ordered a “surge” and the number of U.S. soldiers rose to over 100,000. The total number of NATO forces peaked at 140,000 in 2011. (The NATO numbers include troops from Georgia, Germany, Turkey, Romania, Italy, the UK and Australia.) By June 2015, the Obama administration was projecting a drawdown, resulting in troops level at approximately 1,000 during 2017.
Changing situations on the ground, however, now have Obama projecting 5,500 soldiers in Afghanistan through 2017. Journalist Mike Sigov reports:
About 9,800 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan now. At the end of next year or in early 2017, the number is to drop to about 5,500 and stay at that level through the end of President Obama’s term in 2017.
Military situations are often fluid and unpredictable. While domestic politics prefers predictable wars, the very phrase ‘predictable war’ is perhaps an oxymoron.