"At President Obama's direction, and with my strong support, the Department of Defense will move ahead with additional contingency planning to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
"This is a prudent step given that President Karzai has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would provide DoD personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014. I appreciate the efforts of General Dunford and our military leaders to provide flexibility to the President as we work to determine the future of our presence in Afghanistan.
"As the United States military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO. And during this time DoD will still continue planning for U.S. participation in a NATO-led mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces, as well as a narrowly focused counterterrorism mission.
"The United States will consult closely with NATO Allies and ISAF Partners in the months ahead, and I look forward to discussing our planning with NATO and ISAF defense ministers in Brussels this week. "