The move demonstrates his administration’s continuing struggle to withdraw from the conflict in Afghanistan, more than two years after the US announced it would officially end its combat operations.
In a statement at the White House, Obama said the role of US forces in Afghanistan would remain unchanged: Training and advising Afghan police and troops, and supporting counterterrorism missions against the Taliban and other groups.
“The security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious,” Obama said. “The Taliban remains a threat. They’ve gained ground in some places.”
The White House had originally planned to pare back the US military presence in Afghanistan from 9,800 troops to 5,500 by the end of Obama’s tenure in office.
Taliban forces now hold more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 US-led invasion, according to recent United Nations estimates.
Large portions of Afghanistan, including the provincial capital of northern Kunduz and multiple districts of southern Helmand province have fallen, at times briefly, to the Taliban over the past year-and-a-half. Many other districts and provinces are also under varying degrees of Taliban control.
Obama spoke in advance of a July 8-9 NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, where alliance members are expected to confirm their support for the Kabul government.