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Pentagon Plans For Quick Afghan Exit If Election Dispute Continues

Aerial view of the building of Pentagon, U.S. Department of Defense.

The U.S. military's top officer says the Pentagon has plans that would allow U.S. forces to stay in Afghanistan for a short time beyond 2014 if Afghanistan’s contested presidential election stalemate continues and prevents the signing of a security agreement.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who arrived in Afghanistan on August 25, says the United States needs about four months under optimum circumstances to pull all troops and equipment out of the country.

But Dempsey says U.S. forces can pull out quickly if needed and has made plans to do so if there is no agreement allowing them to stay into 2015.

Both presidential candidates have said they will sign a new security agreement with Washington.

But an audit of all 8 million ballots in the June election is dragging on longer than expected -- delaying confirmation of Afghanistan's next president.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP