President Obama, elected to the White House seven years ago on a pledge to end America's war in Afghanistan, said Thursday that changing circumstances on the ground required U.S. troops to remain there beyond his presidency to combat Al Qaeda and train local security forces.
"While America's combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures," Obama said.
Thursday's announcement marks an abrupt turnaround from a plan he outlined last year, in which Obama envisioned keeping only a security force of 1,000 in Kabul.
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The announcement followed a months-long review of America's battle against the Taliban which have made aggressive moves to retake territory, including an assault on the city of Kunduz last month that prompted U.S. airstrikes which mistakenly destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital.