‘We’re not leaving,’ say U.S. officials in Afghanistan

By Tom Vanden Brook,  USA TODAY, Dec 18, 2011

KABUL – Top American officials in Afghanistan say the U.S. military intends to maintain a troop presence here beyond a 2014 deadline for Afghan troops to take over.

  • U.S. to ensure Afghans are ready to take over:  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, talks with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, right, and Marine Gen. John Allen in Kabul on Dec. 13.
  • Pool photo by Pablo Martinez MonsivaisU.S. to ensure Afghans are ready to take over: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, talks with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, right, and Marine Gen. John Allen in Kabul on Dec. 13.

U.S. to ensure Afghans are ready to take over: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, talks with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, right, and Marine Gen. John Allen in Kabul on Dec. 13.

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the Taliban and other forces in the region need to know the U.S. military will make sure the Afghans can handle the job.

“If you been waiting for us to go, we’re not leaving,” he said.

NATO forces agreed last year to set a deadline of the end of 2014 for turning over security to Afghan forces and ending combat operations.

The United States has 90,000 troops in Afghanistan. There are more than 30,000 troops from NATO allies.

By the end of the summer of 2012, U.S. forces are slated to drop to about 68,000.

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