TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN TO STAY. President Obama will announce this morning that he plans to leave 5,500 troops in Afghanistan, and that the 9,800 presently in the country will hang around for the bulk of 2016, The Washington Post reports. That means the president will not fulfill his goal of bringing most U.S. troops home by the end of his presidency. The news was welcomed by Afghan authorities, who are dealing with a resurgent Taliban in the area around Kunduz – militants seized that city a few weeks ago, and U.S.-backed forces have had trouble taking it back. Keeping that size force in the country is expected to cost about $15 billion a year.

SYRIA, RUSSIA’S DEFENSE EXPO. The last few weeks of the Syrian conflict have given Russia a chance to test and show off what a military overhaul has meant for the country, the New York Times reports, as Moscow deploys planes and missiles it has never used in combat  for the country’s first campaign outside the borders of the former Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War. The result? Russia is learning how far it can spread its military might, and the rest of the world is getting a crash course in what Russia’s defense modernization was able to accomplish – and what the capabilities of a renewed Russian force, which was long dismissed as dilapidated and decaying, now are.

NATO ABOUT TO GROW? Montenegro wants into the Atlantic alliance, The Washington Post reports, and officials may decide quite soon whether or not to let in the small country, which boasts a population comparable with that of Washington, D.C. Adding on such a tiny country would not fundamentally alter the balance of power within NATO. But it would potentially irk Russia, which has long been wary of NATO expanding eastward, and has ties to the country – local media say Russians own about 40 percent of Montenegrin real estate, and Russian tourists flock to the country by the hundreds of thousands.