The formal announcement of an exit date for the US troops has been largely met with criticisms, because it gives the opponents a schedule to prepare and plan, and creates the impression, the US has lost and is running. Instead of exercising further damage limitation exercises, the US senior officials announced that President Barack Obama was now considering the ‘zero option’ - total withdrawal of US forces after 2014. This seems detrimental, whilst a bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington is being negotiated to determine the size of the US forces to remain after the US exit; their role will be to aid the nascent Afghan National Security Forces ( ANSF) to maintain peace and stability.
Naturally, the announcement of the ‘Zero Option’ has been criticised widely by military experts and diplomats. The former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, retired Gen. John Allen stated: “They don't want us in large numbers, but they want us there in enough numbers to help to continue to develop the ANSF." On the surface this announcement of the ‘Zero Option’ seems like the US is announcing total capitulation. However, given the recent political development with the efforts to get a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, it could mean two things: