Troop Drawdown Begins This Month

Jul 15, 2011, 11:23 by R.E. Christian

The drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, announced by U.S. President Barack Obama, will begin this month, the deputy commander of the U.S. forces said.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Kabul, Army Gen. David Rodriguez, who is also the commander of NATO forces joint command in Afghanistan, said the drawdown will include both combat troops and combat support troops.

"It will be a gradual drawdown, and I'm confident that we can draw down those troops through the end of this year and accomplish our mission," he said.

Obama has announced about 33,000 troops from Afghanistan would be withdrawn by the summer of 2012.

"Next year, of course, it will be up to the leaders to see how it goes in the future," said the general, whose tour began in 2009 and end this month.

He said the objective in Afghanistan remains the same -- to deny al-Qaida sanctuary and prevent the insurgents from retaking Afghanistan.

To achieve this, the coalition forces will continue "to destroy or degrade the insurgents' infrastructure, build the Afghan National Security Forces strong enough to lead in providing security for their country and ultimately mobilize the people to stand up to their enemies."

The general said the coalition currently has the momentum.

He said the coalition will hand over the lead to the Afghans gradually, over time, "and it's going to be beginning now."

The troops will be transitioning in seven locations later this month.

Source: UPI