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TODAY   |  November 20, 2013

US troops could stay in Afghanistan for a decade

A U.S.-Afghan agreement could mean a longer stay for American forces in Afghanistan, which requests that about 15,000 soldiers remain for at least a decade. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> we move on to the war in afghanistan and an agreement that might keep the u.s. there for another decade or longer. richard engle broke this story and joins us from kabul . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. thousands of afghan officials are starting to gather here in kabul to vote starting tomorrow on a joint u.s.-afghan security agreement that if passed by both afghanistan and the united states could keep u.s. troops in this country for a lot longer. at a base in kabul , u.s. troops today training the afghan air force and doing what they're famous for, coping with whatever comes their way.

>> we came here for a mission and we take care of the mission and then we go home.

>> reporter: news of possible u.s.-afghan agreement that could keep u.s. forces in afghanistan for years taken in stride by the sergeant from georgia.

>> i think every soldier and sailor understands what they're doing when they sign, you know? sign the contract.

>> reporter: but american troops may need to keep that resolve for a long time. a draft of the agreement obtained by nbc news outlines a relationship with the u.s. paying for forces staying on as trainers and movements restricted valid through 2024 . the exact terms of the deal are still being negotiated but afghan officials tell us they want about 15,000 u.s. troops to remain here on bases for another decade at least. u.s. officials say they're considering 7 to 8,000. without the u.s. troops , the afghan government could collapse.

>> we still need to have a very presence here. it's very important.

>> reporter: the war in afghanistan doesn't seem to be ending but entering a new phase that could see tens of thousands of troops deploying here overtime and cost billions more.

>> and richard , there is a report that afghan officials want an apology from u.s. officials as part of this security agreement . susan rice says the u.s. has no need to apologize and no apology has been drafted or delivered. what are you hearing about that?

>> reporter: this is a very strange episode and another episode from the president. he apparently wants president obama to have some sort of written apology in order for this agreement to go forward. what we're talking about right now is an agreement that could keep american troops in this country, commit billions of american dollars to this country but in order to have the privilege of american troops leaving their bases in order to conduct counter terrorism raids which would benefit both the united states and afghans, he first wants an apology from president obama saying we're sorry for previous abuses and we'll make sure that there are no abuses in the future. some afghan officials we have been speaking to are embarrassed by this.

>> richard engle in kabul this morning. thank you very much.