US Afghanistan troop surge ends with 33,000 troops withdrawn


Soldiers from the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) and US Army soldiers from the 3rd platoon Delta company conduct a joint patrol at Nevay-deh village in Kandahar province on September 5, 2012. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen shared his "deep concerns" over the rising number of insider attacks on NATO troops with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.



The American troop surge in Afghanistan ended with little fanfare, as the last of the 33,000 troops were withdrawn on Friday.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced on Friday that the surge had accomplished its mission and the troops were withdrawn, according to the Associated Press.

The New York Times said the withdrawal still leaves 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and was not commented upon by Afghan President Hamid Karzai or Gen. John R. Allen, the US military commander.

"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," Panetta said, according to The 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, CNN noted.

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However, the troops leave at a time when violence continues to plague the country and several "green-on-blue" attacks, where men dressed in Afghan military and police uniforms fire on foreign troops, have taken a toll on coalition forces.

CNN noted that just last week an assault on a coalition base killed two US troops and destroyed six coalition fighter jets.

The Washington Post noted that US 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 AP said at least 51 coalition troops have been killed by insider attacks this year. Australian Brig. Gen. Roger Noble, deputy to the alliance's operations chief, said, "It's one thing to be killed in action by the insurgents. It's quite another to be shot in the back of the head at night by your friends."

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, said The Post.

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The AP filed this report: