Obama, Karzai agree to accelerate Afghan military transition

Saturday, January 12, 2013
US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai participate in a joint press
conference in the East Room of the White House [PHOTO: Lawrence Jackson] 

Washington: American President Barack Obama says U.S. troops are speeding up the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

Obama made the announcement on January 11 as he held talks in Washington with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama indicated that U.S. troops will shift to a support role for Afghan forces during the spring 2013 -- a few months earlier than expected.

"What is going to happen this spring is that Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country," he said. "That doesn't mean coalition forces, including U.S. forces, are no longer fighting. They will still be fighting alongside Afghan troops. It does mean though that Afghans will have taken the lead and our presence, the nature of our work will be different. We will be in a training, assisting, advising role."

The U.S. military was originally expected to start its shift away from a combat role during the summer, ahead of the planned withdrawal of all foreign combat forces by the end of 2014.

Obama said the Afghan war, though it fell short in some areas, had achieved its main goal of crippling Al-Qaeda terrorists, and said Afghanistan now has a better chance for peace and prosperity than before American-led troops toppled the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2011 attacks.

Obama did not announce any decisions about how many U.S. troops will remain in the country after the planned withdrawal to train Afghan forces and help with security.

But he said the discussions with Karzai included the issue of a "possible" U.S. presence in Afghanistan after 2014.
Next Post »