President Obama announced today a plan to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2015, laying out a plan for bringing "America's longest war to a responsible end." He pointed out that the United States did not seek out the war in Afghanistan, but responded out of necessity.

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"Now we are finishing the job we started," said Obama, adding that the country has learned since 9/11 that it's "harder to end wars than it is to begin them."

Obama's decision is largely in line with what military commanders have been seeking and would allow the president to fully end the American-led military effort by the time he leaves office. 

According to the administration official, the U.S. troop presence would shrink from its current force of 32,000 to 9,800 by the start of next year. It would then reduce to roughly half that size by the end of 2015. Nearly all those forces are to be out by the end of 2016, as Obama finishes his second term. 

The two-year plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. While current Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, U.S. officials are confident that either of the candidates seeking to replace him will give his approval. 

Over the course of next year, the number of troops would be cut in half and consolidated in the capital of Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan. Those remaining forces would largely be withdrawn by the end of 2016, with fewer than 1,000 remaining behind to staff a security office in Kabul. 

Obama is revealing the plans after returning from a surprise weekend trip to Afghanistan where he met with U.S. commanders and American forces serving in the closing months of the nation's longest war.

Read more on the plan at and watch the president's full address above.