33,000 U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan

ABC News24.09.2012 Asia
33,000 U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan

33,000 U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan

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The last of the 33,000 American surge troops sent to Afghanistan two years ago have left late last week.

With the departure of the last of the surge troops, there are now 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

Two years ago, President Obama announced a surge of troops to Afghanistan to help increase security amid the threat of Taliban insurgents. In announcing the deployment of 33,000 additional troops, President Obama said the surge would be temporary.

A phased withdrawal plan was developed where 10,000 troops would leave Afghanistan by July 2011 and the remaining 23,000 would leave Afghanistan by the end of September 2012.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, traveling in New Zealand on Thursday, released a statement announcing an end to the surge.

“As we reflect on this moment, it is an opportunity to recognize that the surge accomplished its objectives of reversing Taliban momentum on the battlefield, and dramatically increased the size and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).”

“This growth has allowed us and our ISAF Coalition partners to begin the process of transition to Afghan security lead, which will soon extend across every province and more than 75 percent of the Afghan population. At the same time, we have struck enormous blows against al Qaeda's leadership, consistent with our core goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and denying it a safe-haven,” he added.
NATO has agreed that all of its combat troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

“It is important to underscore that even as our surge troops return home, there are roughly 68,000 Americans who remain in a tough fight in Afghanistan, alongside their NATO and Afghan partners. We are a nation at war. But the international community is also strongly united behind our shared strategy to transition to Afghan security control, which will be completed by the end of 2014,” Panetta added.

A U.S. official confirmed the withdrawal of the surge troops prior to Panetta's announcement.

There has also been a significant reduction in military equipment that matches the reduction in troops. Lt. General John Terry, the Commander of ISAF Joint Command, told Pentagon reporters that half of the 60,000 pieces of rolling stock and another 30,000 containers had already been shipped out of Afghanistan.

Many of the surge troops were sent to southern Afghanistan to fight the Taliban in its strongholds. As troops pushed into areas long controlled by the Taliban, the number of U.S. and NATO casualties began to rise. 57% of the almost-2,000 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan have occurred since the surge began in January 2010.

General John Allen, the top NATO Commander in Afghanistan, has said that in mid-November he will make a recommendation for how many more U.S. troops should leave Afghanistan in 2013.



Source: ABC News



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