Republican lawmakers and foreign policy experts blasted President Barack Obama's announcement on Tuesday that he would fully withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 as a move that could embolden the Taliban and eventually lead to a resurgence in violence.
Obama announced that 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan going into next year, a number that would be reduced by about half by the end of 2015. U.S. forces would be cut to a normal embassy presence by the end of 2016 with a security assistance office in Kabul.
The president's plan instantly drew criticism from Republicans who charged that the announced timeline of withdrawal would encourage the Taliban to simply wait out the final departure of U.S. forces. That could enable terrorist groups such as al Qaeda to reenter the country and again plot attacks against the U.S. homeland.