‘Coming Home’: 33,000 U.S. Troops To Leave Afghanistan By End Of 2012

The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is set to plummet by 33,000 by the end of 2012 – leaving Afghan forces increasingly on the frontline.

Afghans are afraid to face the civil war after the pullout of the foreign forces. Photo: Karim_Jan/ Flickr

 The most of the troops are from The United States – about 33,000. That’s one-third of 101,000 American units who stayed in Afghanistan in June, the peak of U.S. military presence in the war, said the Pentagon.

“The more U.S. forces draw down, the more it gives the green light for our international partners to also head for the exits,” said Jeffrey Dressler, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. “There is a cyclical effect here that is hard to temper once it gets going.”

Others in the 49-nation coalition have agreed to remove their forces too, while previously they insisted not to leave. Many nations have decided to keep troops in Afghanistan to train the Afghan police and army in the years to come. And many have pledged to send aid to the country after the international combat mission ends in 2014.

Afghans fear that the nation could face civil when the foreigners return home. Although the confidence in the Afghan security forces has risen, they doubt whether the Afghan soldiers and police will be able to protect the entire nation in next three years. There are also rumors that the Afghan economy will collapse if foreign forces leave and donors get stingy with aid.

By the way, foreign forces are to start returning home from Afghanistan this year.

It was counted that about 14,000 foreign members will leave by the end of December. The United States plan to withdraw 10,000 troops this year; Canada will pull out 2,850 combat forces this summer; France and Britain are recalling about 400; Poland will each send 200 home; and Denmark and Slovenia are

Moreover, in 2012 about 26,000 troops will leave. That statistics includes 23,000 Americans, 950 Germans, 600 French, 500 Britons, 400 Poles, 290 Belgians, 156 Spaniards, 100 Swedes and 50 Finns.

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, reported that in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan will drop “markedly” in 2012, that would lead to an increasing role of those who stay to train and advise Afghan security forces.

Amos refused to speak about the number of Marines who are to leave in 2012. “Am I Ok with that? The answer is ‘yes,’ ” Gen. Amos said. “We can’t stay in Afghanistan forever. Will it work? I don’t know. But I know we’ll do our part,” he added.

As for many other countries, such as Hungary and Italy, they have almost finished planning their pullout schedules. Presidential elections in Europe and the European debt crisis could also accelerate the withdrawal. Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that Australia’s training mission would be completed in 2014.

“We are getting more Afghans into the field and we are transferring more responsibility to them in many areas,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings Jr. said, adding that many leaders of the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Haqqani militant networks are captured or killed.

Some countries intend to start pullout as soon as possible, according to a senior NATO official, who wished to remain anonymous. The official insisted that those desires were not driving decisions on where Afghan troops are taking the lead.

“The big question (after 2014) is if the Afghan security forces can take on an externally based insurgency with support from the Pakistani security establishment and all that entails,” Dressler said.

“I think they will have a real challenge on their hands if the U.S. and NATO countries do not address Pakistani sponsorship of these groups,” he added. [Via Huff Post]

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