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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid