US President Barack Obama announced last night that 10,000 US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012. There are currently around 90,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said in response to the US announcement:
I have spoken with President Obama and welcome his announcement to draw down the US troop surge from Afghanistan.
The surge by the US and international partners, supported by an increase in the number of Afghan Army and Police, has reversed the momentum of the insurgency and created the right conditions for security responsibility to begin to transfer to the Afghans from July.
We will keep UK force levels in Afghanistan under constant review. I have already said there will be no UK troops in combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015 and, where conditions on the ground allow, it is right that we bring troops home sooner.
We remain side by side with Afghanistan and our international partners to achieve a military and political solution in Afghanistan that will allow the Afghan people to take full responsibility for their own sovereignty and national security.
UK Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:
I welcome President Obama’s statement which has been made possible by the surge of US and ISAF forces, coupled with the ever-growing numbers and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Across the country, the insurgency is under real and sustained pressure. Their momentum has been halted and in some areas reversed. This summer will see the continuation of this process with Afghan forces beginning to take the lead for security in a number of areas, including Lashkar Gah, the headquarters for British forces.
The Afghan Army and Police are increasingly able to plan, direct and execute operations to provide security for their own people. But our collective military efforts need to continue until Afghan security forces are able to assume responsibility for security across Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
The Prime Minister has said we will not have combat forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It is right at this time to recognise the tremendous efforts the American military has made and continues to make in Afghanistan, both in the performance of its forces and the leadership it provides.