News / Asia

Holbrooke: US Combat Troops to be Phased Out of Afghanistan by 2014

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (file photo)
US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (file photo)

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, says U.S. and NATO combat forces will be phased out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the handover to Afghan security forces will begin in the middle of next year.  Holbrooke's remarks came during a discussion with a group of journalists in Pakistan.

Ambassador Holbrooke acknowledged there is confusion in the region over the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama has set July 2011 as the date to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

However Holbrooke and other American officials are now stressing the combat mission is not likely to end until 2014.

"The substantial combat forces should be phased out at the end of 2014, four years from now.  Some withdrawals, the beginning of transition, will occur starting in July of next year and that process will not be completed until the end of 2014."

Ambassador Holbrooke's remarks came on the same day The Washington Post newspaper published an interview with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who called for the U.S. to reduce the visibility and intensity of its military operations in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai said he wants an end to night raids by U.S. Special Operations forces, a key component of the American military's counterinsurgency strategy.

Ambassador Holbrooke says he understands President Karzai wants full sovereignty of the country to be returned to the Afghan people and he says that future goal is shared by the United States.

Holbrooke says, however, tough military measures are required to protect the Afghan people and Mr. Karzai's own government from the Taliban insurgency.

"But in the current circumstances the military actions he is concerned with also are essential to protect his own government and its people. And the balance has to be carefully calibrated on a regular basis and reexamined continually."

Ambassador Holbrooke stressed that U.S. policy to transition security control of areas to Afghan Army forces and police is not what he called an "exit strategy" for the region.

He says America made that mistake before and suffered terrible consequences when terrorists attacked the United States in 2001.

"In 1989, after the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, the United States lost all interest in Afghanistan and turned its back on the region with results that led directly to 9-11 and to the war today. So what I want to be clear on is, we are not going to do that again."

Holbrooke says the American commitment to South Asia is long and enduring.

Some U.S. officials have been putting pressure on Pakistan to do more to fight Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the tribal regions along its border with Afghanistan.

A special focus is on North Waziristan, a mixed cauldron of armed jihadi groups U.S. military officials have called the "epicenter of terrorism."

Pakistan has indicated it will consider mounting a military offensive in North Waziristan, but says its Army is currently stretched too thin.

Ambassador Holbrooke appeared to be sympathetic with Pakistan's concerns.

"On North Waziristan this is a tactical decision that can only be made by the Pakistani Army and they feel they do not have the resources right now and I think they have a point. I hope that this event will take place. This is Pakistan and the United States cannot dictate to the Pakistani military.”

Holbrooke says despite some media reports there are no peace negotiations taking place with the Taliban.

He says there have been some contacts or what he called "talks about talks," but so far, Holbrooke says, there have been no substantial discussions or secret negotiations about reconciliation with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid