US Afghanistan troop drawdown on track

2012-09-08 14:28

Washington - The planned withdrawal of more than 30 000 US "surge" troops from Afghanistan will be completed ahead of an end-of-month target date, officials said on Friday.

US President Barack Obama ordered in reinforcements in December 2009 and in 2011 promised to have the additional troops withdrawn before the end of 2012.

Commanders had aimed to have the troops out by the end of September and defence officials say the drawdown is ahead of schedule.

US troop levels in Afghanistan, which rose to about 100 000 at the peak of the surge, are now down to 77 000, according to a Pentagon tally. When all the surge forces are withdrawn, the American contingent will be down to 68 000 troops.

In January, there were about 90 000 American boots on the ground and by early August, the force had declined to 84 000.

There are about 40 000 non-US troops deployed in the Nato-led coalition.

Nato countries plan to pull out the bulk of their combat forces by the end of 2014 after a gradual handover to Afghan army and police.

But the commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has yet to issue a recommendation to the White House on troop levels for 2013.

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine this week, Allen said he would provide his advice in November - after the US presidential election.

"My goal now is to have something out of here by the middle of November," he was quoted as saying.

The general made no mention of the 6 November election but any decision on the pace of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan would become fodder for the hotly contested campaign.

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-09-08 15:00

    Right on time for the campaigning. Too late Obama, you promised that ages ago and instead put more troops there.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-08 17:27

      You're a little out of touch. This is a draw-down that was announced last year.

  • schalk.vdmerwe.7 - 2012-09-08 18:04

    Where does the word 'drawdown' come from? but that apart; History is repeating itself - once again the americans are running, as they have done in every war they have ever fought, and the mess they leave behind takes years to fix. Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, shall I go on?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 01:19

      It is for this reason that the US should be kept as far away from other countries as possible. They leave only death and destruction, that's if they leave!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-09 01:40

      Yeah right. Shows his much you know. And the fact that Fidel agrees with you, when he believes Neslon Mandeka of all people is a phony, shows how off your perspective is. Fidel, with that belief, is a bellwether for wrong thinking.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-09-09 01:23

    No consolation whatsoever to Afghans who have suffered thousands or tens of thousands of "accidental" civilian deaths. I wonder what will happen to that country when all the soldiers in Afghanistan come home. They will have hundreds of thousands of trained killers, some damaged beyond repair, turned loose on their families and communities. A nightmare!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-09 01:41

      Case in point.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-09 01:53

      Fidel, again, this is a South African website. You have stated that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. You stated this a few weeks ago on the US/Mandela story. You have since said nothing about this, notwithstanding that it's been pointed out to you many times. Your silence means you stand by that belief. On a South African website it is untenable. On any website it is untenable. It has to be the most arrogant statement made by anyone on this site.

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