U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice today said the United States will withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.
At the Security Council Debate on Afghanistan and UNAMA, Ms. Rice highlighted top priorities for U.S government in Afghanistan.
“As President Obama recently said, July marks the beginning of a responsible transition that will see Afghan forces gradually taking the lead in securing their own country. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.” -Ms. Rice
She stressed that as Afghan security forces move into the lead, the United States will continue to reduce its military footprint. Its mission will change from combat to support. She added that the remaining 23,000 “surge” troops in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012.
Ms. Rice noted that President Obama made thedecision from a position of strength. She highlighted that the U.S. government has made significant progress towards their goals.
“The U.S. military surge, together with additional troops committed by our allies and partners, has helped stabilize more of the country and shifted the momentum away from the insurgency.” -Ms. Rice
She stressed that Afghan security forces have improved in quality and grown by more than 100,000 troops. She noted the improvements have already allowed for the transition of responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces.
Ms. Rice emphasized that in the face of violence, terror, and intimidation, Afghans are defending their country, establishing local police forces, reopening markets and schools, and creating new opportunities for women and girls.
“We will continue to support them as they reclaim their country after decades of strife, long after our military mission has ended.” -Ms. Rice
Ms. Rice highlighted that the U.S. government is redoubling its efforts to pursue a peaceful end to the conflict. She underscored that the United States supports the Afghan-led initiatives to reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban.
Finally, she pointed out that the U.S. government has taken tangible steps to advance Afghan reconciliation and reintegration initiatives, including support to the Afghan High Peace Council and provincial police and reintegration councils.