Senior administration official and military source quoted by Fox News said the United States could leave a much larger footprint after the deadline for handing over security to t he Afghans.
The official further added Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan also offered three options to the Pentagon for a way forward earlier this week.
According to the administration official none of the proposed plans went “north of 10,000 troops”. In the meantime officials are saying that plans awaiting official approval from Panetta.
The low-end option calls for 6,000 to 6,500 troops that would be strictly for counterterrorism operations: hunting down Taliban and al Qaeda members and cells still operating around the country. This would require mostly Special Operations Forces, with a limited number of support troops and only a very small amount of training assistance for Afghan forces.
The mid-range option, involving around 10,000 troops, would still have the main focus on counterterrorism operations, but it would have a bigger training footprint for Afghan forces, with most of the focus on Special Operations troops and a limited amount of conventional troop training.
The 15,000-troop option would bring in a greater number of conventional troops for training Afghan Security Forces, as well as a bigger support element in addition to the counterterrorism forces.
However officials emphasized that none of these plans are set in stone and that until the president announces his decision the plans could be subject to change.