Code 47234
PublishDate: Thursday, February 2, 2012 13:20

U.S. plans to halt Afghan combat role early

The transition has been planned against a timetable and this makes us rush all our preparations," a senior Afghan security official said.

The United States appears to have taken Kabul by surprise by announcing plans to end its Afghan combat role earlier than expected, and coinciding with a secret report that the Taliban is confident it can grab back control of the ravaged country.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking on Wednesday, said the United States would stop combat operations before the end of 2013 as it winds down its longest war.
"A decision to push this a year earlier throws out the whole transition plan. The transition has been planned against a timetable and this makes us rush all our preparations," a senior Afghan security official, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, told Reuters on Thursday.

The United States, which led the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has previously said it would withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.
Panetta said the U.S. troops would shift next year to a supporting role, training and advising Afghan troops who would take charge of a country that has been at war for more than three decades.
A faster end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan could give President Barack Obama an election-year lift.
It may also demoralize Afghans who fear a return to the austere rule of the Taliban and hope that reconciliation between all parties would deliver a better alternative.
People like hotel waiter Yama, 19, expressed alarm at the prospect that U.S. troops will cease combat sooner.
"Everything Afghanistan has built during the past years would be destroyed, robbed and sold to neighboring countries," he said.

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