NATO denies accelerating Afghanistan troop withdrawal
By Published: April 3, 2012
The head of NATO, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has denied reports that NATO plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan ahead of the already-set withdrawal date of 2014, AFP reported, stating that there has been confusion between the targeted date of when Afghan forces should assume security control off all provinces and the date to pullout NATO forces.
"There is nothing new in all this but maybe it is necessary to clarify these timelines because sometimes they are mixed up in a way that creates some confusion," AFP quoted Rasmussen saying during a news conference held Monday.
Control of the last provinces must be handed over from NATO troops to Afghan security forces by mid- to late 2013 in order for the pullout goal of the end of 2014 for NATO combat troops to be attainable.
Afghan security forces are in the lead in provinces representing half the country's population, including the capital Kabul, AFP reported on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Karimi (right), an interpreter with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, watches Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Koch, a corpsman with Jump Platoon, 3/3, collect the biometric data of an Afghan farmer while searching his compound for narcotics and insurgent materiel with Afghan National Army soldiers from 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps.
ALFRED V. LOPEZ/COURTESY U.S. MARINE CORPS