The wind down of the war in Afghanistan has begun.
According to Yahoo! News, President Barack Obama will announce in his State of the Union address on February 12 that 34,000 U.S troops will be back on American soil by this time next year.
The troop withdraw is a part of a plan put forth by the Obama Administration to end war efforts in Afghanistan by 2014. The current 34,000 troop withdraw will reduce the amount of Military personnel by more than half. Further reductions in troop levels will occur next year.
According to Yahoo!, Congress and the American public have been waiting to see when troop withdraw will officially occur. The U.S. is expected to end combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told the media in January that the White House is considering bringing all troops out of Afghanistan after 2014. He told reporters in a conference call:
That would be an option that we would consider.
Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a hot topic in Congress. Bob Corker, a Senator from Tennessee who is a ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told Yahoo News that he advised the president to wait until after Afghanistan's 2014 elections to begin troop withdrawal from the country. He told Yahoo News:
The biggest factor in the success of Afghanistan likely is to be the elections, and hoe that's handled, and who's elected, and the process. I don't understand why a decision has to be made now as to the number of troops.
Senior administration officials have told Yahoo News that the president is not going to make further announcement about the number of troops in the country beyond the 34,000 announcement.