Experts talk U.S. troop withdraw in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond

WASHINGTON - New details have emerged about just how many American troops will remain in Afghanistan after the bulk of U.S. forces leave in 2014.

The options are on the table. At the low end, a little more than 6,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan -- most of which would be special operations forces hunting terrorists, with a small amount of training for Afghan forces, according to a CNN report.

A 10,000-troop option would still focus on Al Qaeda, but would add conventional troops to expand Afghan training.

A 15,000-troop option would include even more conventional troops to go on limited patrols, and give the Afghans even more support. 

Analyst Stephanie Sanok worked in Baghdad, and developed options for the Iraq drawdown. She says between war fatigue and spending cuts, even the middle option may be a reach. 

"My guess is, you end up closer to the 6,000-person option than the 10,000-person option," said Sanok.

Analyst Jeff Dressler argues the U.S. will still have to keep helicopter crews, medical teams and other backup for whatever troops are left.

"Just keeping 6,000 probably isn't that much cheaper than 15,000, because there are basic things that you need to have there just for the six," said Dressler.

Dressler says lowball options are minimizing the danger any remaining troops could face.  

"I would argue that even with 20,000 troops you are still assuming quite a bit of risk. It's by no means a low-risk option," added Dressler.

Gen. John Allen presented these options in one of his last acts as commander, but Gen. Joseph Dunford, the man taking Allen's place in February, admits he wasn't included in the talks over options. That could signal some tense fights with members of congress, who are skeptical of the drawdown plan. 

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