U.S. President Barack Obama announced he is withdrawing 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by the middle of next year.
In a nationally televised address, the president said is he able to make the withdrawals because the United States and its allies are meeting their goals in Afghanistan.
He said the withdrawal will begin in July.
He said that by 2014, the process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
VOA News Analysts Comment on President Obama's Afghan Speech
In 2009, Mr. Obama announced a surge of 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. He described the surge as one of the most difficult decisions he has made as president.
President Obama says al-Qaida is under more pressure than at any time since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In his speech, Mr. Obama calls Osama bin Laden's death a victory for all who have served since the attacks. He says information recovered from the al-Qaida leader's compound show the terror group under "enormous strain" and on a "path to defeat."
Images from the War in Afghanistan
The president says U.S. forces have inflicted losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. He says Afghan forces have grown and are already taking responsibility for security control in their country.
The president also says the "tide of war is receding," with fewer Americans serving in harm's way. He says 100,000 U.S. troops are already out of Iraq and that the "light of a secure peace" can be seen in Afghanistan, with both wars coming to a "responsible end."
Mr. Obama says the United States must chart "a more centered course, " responding to threats with a "targeted force" and not necessarily deploying large armies overseas.
He says the U.S. must rally international action, like in Libya, where there is not one single American soldier on the ground.
U.S. opinion surveys indicate that Americans are increasingly weary and disillusioned about the war. A Pew Research poll released Tuesday shows a record 56 percent of Americans say U.S. troops should be brought home as soon as possible.
Hours before Mr. Obama's speech Wednesday, lawmakers in Congress passionately debated the costs and benefits of the war.
Afghan war: From Bombing to Drawdown