Not all NATO troops leaving Afghanistan, commander says

Sept. 4, 2013 at 10:31 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Coalition forces do not have any plans to completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year, says the commander of NATO ground forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mark Milley says there is "no indication whatsoever" all troops of the International Security Assistance Force will leave the country, Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.

"We are going to change our mission, and we are going to reduce in size and scope," said Milley. "The current NATO mandate ends on 31 December 2014, but there's another mission that follows that called Resolute Support which is currently in planning,"

That mission involves acting in a support and advisory role for Afghan troops, which are to assume the primary responsibility for security within the country.

Milley said he is awaiting guidance from NATO political leaders on how to finalize planning for Resolute Support. Afghan President Hamid Karzai suspended negotiations in June with U.S. officials about the possibility of withdrawing all troops. Karzai said in August he is not ready to sign an agreement over future troop levels.

Milley said "withdrawal" was an inaccurate description of coalition plans, saying he hadn't been told to expect a total troop pullout.

"We're only pulling out of areas where we think the Afghan security forces are capable of standing up and fighting on their own," he said.

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