American Troop Surge in Afghanistan Ends

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The U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan ended today, with little fanfare, as the last of 33,000 additional troops left for home.

The withdrawal still leaves 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and was not commented upon by Afghan President Hamid Karzai or U.S. military commander Gen. John R. Allen.

"As we reflect on this moment, it is an opportunity to recognize that the surge accomplished its objectives of reversing Taliban momentum on the battlefield and dramatically increased the size and capability of the Afghan national security forces," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told The New York Times.

The troop surge was ordered by President Barack Obama in December 2009, to stabilize Afghanistan and push back against the resurgence of the Taliban.

But the U.S. troops leave at a time when violence continues to plague the country, and several so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, in which men dressed in Afghan military and police uniforms fire on foreign troops, have taken a toll on coalition forces. Just last week, an assault on a coalition base killed two U.S. troops and destroyed six coalition fighter jets.

U.S. and NATO commanders announced earlier this week that joint patrols and training would be scaled back because of their inability to stop insider attacks.

The surge withdrawal keeps with Obama's timetable to pull all conventional combat forces out of Afghanistan by 2014, though it remains unclear how many forces and trainers would remain in the country to train Afghans.

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