US pullback tied to fighting season

2013-02-12 22:25
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Washington - US commanders will keep as many US troops as possible in Afghanistan until after the fighting season despite a decision to pull out 34 000 in the next year, a senior US defence official said on Tuesday.

"The commanders will have discretion on pace and focus will be [on] keeping as many forces in play until after the fighting season," the official told AFP.

President Barack Obama is to announce the troop pullback on Tuesday evening in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, a source familiar with his speech said.

The withdrawal this year would roughly halve the size of the 66 000-strong US force in Afghanistan. Most of the foreign combat forces in the country are due to be out by the end of 2014.

Outgoing US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta "supports the plan to continue drawing down our forces over the coming year in Afghanistan," the official said.

"The approach you'll hear from the president tonight reflects the best military advice from commanders in the Pentagon and in the field."

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us  |  afghanistan

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