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AKIPRESS.COM - President Barack Obama has revealed plans to greatly reduce the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of the year – seeking to end the US military presence in the Middle Eastern country by 2016, AFP reported.
In an attempt to turn the page on the occupation which started within a month of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Obama said 9,800 American troops of the 32,000-strong current force would be kept in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission formally ends later this year.
The fewer than 1,000 remaining troops would not engage in combat, but would be assigned with training Afghan security forces and focusing on counter terrorism efforts.
“We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected,” Obama acknowledged during an appearance in the White House Rose Garden. “Now we're finishing the job we've started.”
Noting the complexity of the plans, Obama said: “It's harder to end wars than to begin them,” he added.
But the move is likely to garner criticism at home. Before the address, Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said that the U.S. had allocated about $20 billion (£11.8 billion) on the continued military presence. Asked if such a cost was worth it, Blinken replied: "We want to complete the job that we started." At the same time, he said "we can't be in an endless war posture."