Obama announces US troop pullout from AfghanistanJune 23rd, 2011 - 8:17 am ICT by IANS
Washington, June 23 (IANS/RIA Novosti) US President Barack Obama has announced plans to withdraw 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year.
The first US soldiers will begin returning home next month, in line with the deadline set by Obama in December 2009, when he authorised a surge of 33,000 US troops to break the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan.
All the troops sent in the surge will be pulled out by next summer, Obama said in a televised speech Wednesday night.
“After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead,” he said.
“Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security,” he said.
The US had made significant progress on meeting its three goals for the surge - denying Al Qaeda a safe-haven, reversing the Taliban’s momentum and training the Afghan security forces, the president said.
According to US officials, up to 5,000 troops would leave the country next month, and another 5,000 soldiers would return home by the end of the year.
Some 70,000 US servicemen will stay in Afghanistan till the summer of 2012.
The US has been the largest contributor to the 48-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which currently has more than 130,000 troops in Afghanistan.
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