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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More