Entries in Withdrawal (54)


US Begins Shipping Supplies Out of Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a sign of what is to come, the Pentagon has started shipping heavy equipment out of Afghanistan in anticipation of its major military withdrawal scheduled for sometime in 2014.

This was the same process used by the U.S. when it prepared for pulling out troops from Iraq at the end of 2011.

According to a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, as many as 50 shipping containers with supplies were ferried out of Afghanistan through Pakistan -- the same route the Pentagon has used for more than a decade to bring arms to U.S. and coalition soldiers.

It's expected that Pakistan will serve as the main passageway for tens of thousands of containers of supplies from now through the end of next year.

In order to keep the transport of equipment flowing smoothly, Washington has to maintain good relations with Islamabad, which shut down the route for seven months between 2011 and 2012 following a U.S. "friendly fire" air strike that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Mulls Leaving No Residual Force Behind in Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(WASHINGTON) -- No U.S. troops left in Afghanistan after 2014?  It's a possibility.

A scenario similar to what occurred in Iraq is a consideration as the White House mulls its plan for post-war Afghanistan, 13 years after troops were first sent there to dismantle al-Qaeda training camps and remove the Taliban from power.

In the case of Iraq, the Obama administration refused to go along with demands from Baghdad that American soldiers could no longer have immunity from prosecution once security responsibilities were transferred fully to national forces.

When asked what the president has in mind for Afghanistan, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said on Tuesday that leaving no residual force was an option but that "we are not guided by the goal of a certain number of troops in the country."

Obama is concerned about a resurgent al Qaeda once U.S. and NATO forces pull up stakes, so the talk at present is to possibly leave as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 major withdrawal.  Currently, there are about 66,000 American soldiers in the country.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., on Friday, at which time a preliminary decision about how many American forces to hold over could be made.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Looking for Longterm Immunity Deal with Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. may be hamstrung again if it attempts to leave a sizeable force in Afghanistan following the intended withdrawal of most American and NATO troops sometime in 2014.

At the end of 2011, President Obama couldn't strike a deal with the Iraqis to extend legal immunity for soldiers from potentially criminal acts committed during war and the same thing could happen with the Afghans.

With at least a year before any major drawdowns occur, the Pentagon and State Department have the advantage of time in trying to nail down an agreement that would keep any remaining American troops from being charged with crimes and brought up before Afghan courts.

Asked about it on Wednesday during a press briefing, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters, "I think there’s likelihood that protections for U.S. personnel are obviously part of any [Status of Forces Agreement] discussion, so I would expect that to be on the agenda.  But we’re not to the point yet where any decisions have been reached by either side on specific legal provisions in an agreement."

Little didn't say whether the U.S. might be more flexible with President Hamid Karzai's government in that failing to achieve iron-clad immunity might not be a prerequisite for keeping several thousand boots on the ground past the 2014 deadline to withdraw.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Karzai Says Afghans Can Take Over for Coalition Earlier than 2014

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai claimed on Thursday that his police and military forces are prepared to take over security chores from the international coalition whenever it decides to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The U.S. and NATO have scheduled a near total drawdown by sometime in 2014 and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reiterated that firm date during his press conference in Kabul with Karzai.

Rasmussen said that he believes national forces will be ready to assume security responsibilities by the time the coalition packs up and leaves two years from now.

However, Karzai's suggestion was that Afghanistan is ready, even now, if the U.S. and NATO want to get an early jump.

The announcement came just a day after a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle by striking a joint U.S.-Afghan base in the Zurmat district of Paktia province, wounding 45 Afghan soldiers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Officials: Last of 33,000 Surge Troops Leave Afghanistan

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The last of the 33,000 American surge troops sent to Afghanistan two years ago have left the battlefields of Afghanistan, a U.S. official confirmed.

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.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, traveling in New Zealand on Thursday, was expected to release a statement announcing an end to the surge.  He was expected to say that the surge completed its mission of providing better security to enable the full transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

NATO has agreed that all of its combat troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The U.S. official said that earlier Thursday the benchmark of 68,000 troops in Afghanistan had been reached, a development that had been anticipated for several days.

Just days ago, Pentagon figures showed there were 70,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Australian Brig. Gen. Roger Noble, the deputy operations chief for NATO in Afghanistan, refused to pinpoint for Pentagon reporters when exactly the “surge recovery” would be completed.

Noble said “not many more” surge troops remained to leave Afghanistan and that the goal of reaching 68,000 by Oct. 1 was “very, very close.”   He added that the timing was “very dependent on strategic lift, weather -- and they change daily by sort of hundreds, if you know what I mean.”

Noble was referring to the last remaining troops that were still awaiting their flights out of Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.

There has also been a significant reduction in military equipment that matches the reduction in troops.  Lt. Gen. 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.

Fifty-seven percent of the almost-2,000 U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan have occurred since the surge began in January 2010.

Gen. 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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Britain Mulling Quicker Withdrawal from Afghanistan

ISAF Photo by British Royal Army Sergeant James Elmer(LONDON) -- Britain is considering hastening the pace of its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The goal of the U.S. and its coalition allies is to pull out virtually all forces by sometime in 2014 in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan government.

While the U.S. currently has an estimated 67,000 soldiers in the country, Britain is second most with 9,000.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is now suggesting that his government could order thousands of troops out of Afghanistan in a year from now because he is "surprised by the extent to which they have been able to draw back and leave the Afghans to take the lion's share of the combat role."

Hammond also stressed that the British drawdown would be coordinated by how the U.S. sees the situation develop in Afghanistan a year from now.

He emphasized that while the Afghan military has seemed to improve at a faster rate than expected, the government is lacking when it comes to taking diplomatic steps to end the nearly 11-year war.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Officials Optimistic About Post-Withdrawal Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Two years from now, most coalition troops led by the U.S. are expected to be out of Afghanistan.

While that's what the Afghans want, Russia and India have expressed concerns that the country will quickly descend into a civil war that will essentially undo what will have been a 13-year-old coalition effort to stabilize Afghanistan.

Yet, Simon Gass, NATO's senior civilian representative, believes those fears are unfounded and that while there may be problems initially, Afghanistan will be much better off than when the country was ruled by the Taliban from the mid-1990s until late 2001.

Gass explained on Monday that one reason why civil war won't erupt "is because Afghanistan's neighbors realize the huge amount of problems that they would face if Afghanistan were tipped into a position of constant conflict and chaos."

Simply put, Pakistan, Iran and other countries don't want millions of Afghans streaming into countries to escape violence.

Gass also believes that Afghans have long memories and want to avoid the horror "of returning to the dark years, '92 and '93, when the civil war was raging and shells were falling on Kabul."

The NATO official also contends that Afghan security forces are strong now and can repel attempts by Taliban to undermine the government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Chief Promises Alliance Won't Abandon Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Even as it seems that the international coalition has already begun pulling up stakes in Afghanistan after 10 years of deployment, the head of NATO said Wednesday that the alliance "will not abandon Afghanistan, we will not leave behind a security vacuum."

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the remarks in Australia, a country sticking to its commitment to bring a peaceful conclusion to the long war against the Taliban despite continued dissatisfaction with the conflict at home.

This week already, France's new president said that the gradual withdrawal of his nation's forces would begin next month and will conclude by the end of 2012.  That's two years ahead of the rest of NATO.

However, Rasmussen asserted that NATO has a "common interest in and a common responsibility" to leave Afghanistan in the hands of a democratic government capable of defending itself for internal and external enemies.

He added, "I feel confident that by the end of 2014 the Afghan security forces will be able to take full responsibility for security."

In the same year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to leave office after two five-year terms and Rasmussen expressed confidence that the leader would abide by the constitution that prevents him from running for reelection.

While Karzai's relationship with the West has grown more contentious over the years, the U.S. and NATO at least know what they're getting with him as opposed to a new president, who may be less agreeable to foreign interference.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


France to Start Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan in July

BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/GettyImages(PARIS) -- Following an attack that left four French soldiers dead, France's leader announced Sunday that his government would begin withdrawing its military forces from Afghanistan beginning in July.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for last Saturday's suicide bombing in the Nijrab district of Kapisa province that also wounded four troops.

French President Francois Hollande had said upon his recent election that his country would start the gradual drawdown of 3,500 soldiers from Afghanistan so that most would be home by the end of 2012.

This plan is two years ahead of the rest of NATO and the U.S., which will pull the rest of the coalition troops out of Afghanistan in 2014.

Hollande insisted that the deadly bombing in eastern Afghanistan did not influence the pullout beginning next month, saying, "What happened does not change anything, it neither accelerates nor delays withdrawal plans."

In fact, Hollande said he was not listening to calls by the war's critics to speed up the withdrawal, claiming it was impractical to do so.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Leon Panetta in Afghanistan to Discuss Troop Drawdown, Security

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan Thursday to assess the situation on the ground as the U.S. and its allies inch closer to withdrawing all of their troops by 2014.

During his visit, Panetta will meet with U.S. and NATO military commanders, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, and Afghan leaders to discuss the recent uptick in violence and plans for a drawdown of troops.

"The key in the end is not going to be the U.N. or ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), it's going to be Afghans and their capability to be able to secure their country," the defense secretary said Thursday referring to the transfer of security control to Afghan forces once coalition forces leave.

Panetta will also visit American troops during his stay in Afghanistan.  This is his fourth trip to the country as defense secretary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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