Both candidates skirt key Afghanistan issues

Romney and Obama did not articulate any substantial difference on Afghan war policy. Both men pledged to end the conventional combat mission in 2014, as the United States and its NATO allies have long pledged.

Romney was very explicit: "We're going to be finished by 2014." He said the troop surge, which was approved by Obama, "has been
successful."

But both candidates skirted two key issues on troop levels: How many forces would they remove next year? Obama has suggested he favors a steep drawdown; Romney has been more vague on the subject.

And once the NATO mission ends in 2014, how many troops would they seek to leave behind to conduct counterterrorism missions
and continue training the Afghan security forces?

Rajiv Chandrasekaran is a senior correspondent and associate editor. He has served as national editor and as bureau chief in Baghdad, Cairo and Southeast Asia.
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