British Prime Minister David Cameron announces plan to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan by almost a half by the end of next year, local media reported.
David Cameron told the House of Commons on Wednesday that almost 3,800 British troops will return home during 2013, reducing the strength of the UK force in Afghanistan from 9,000 to 5,200, British media reported.
The Prime Minister described the partial withdrawal as a prelude to eventual pullout of the British military personnel from the South Asian country towards the end of 2014.
“We have two decisions to make. First of all, the decision about the drawdown of troops between now and the end of 2014”, he told the MPs.
“What the defence secretary [Philip Hammond] will announce is that because of the success of our forces and the Afghan National Security Forces, and the fact that we are moving from mentoring at a battalion level to mentoring at a brigade level by the end of 2013, we will be able to see troops come home in two relatively even steps – 2013 and 2014 – leaving probably around 5,200 troops after the end of 2013, compared with the 9,000 that we have now”, the Prime Minister explained.
“In terms of post-2014, we haven’t made final decisions yet. We’ve said very clearly – no-one in a combat role, nothing like the number of troops there are now. We’ve promised the Afghans that we will provide this officer training academy that they’ve specifically asked for. We are prepared to look at other issues above and beyond that, but that is the starting baseline”, Cameron added.
The Defence Secretary later told MPs that the UK was able to drawdown troops’ numbers in Afghanistan because of the “rapidly improving” capability of the home-grown Afghan National Security Forces, which are now expected to take over security responsibility for the whole of the country in the middle of 2013.
The drawdown of UK personnel was in line with the policy of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, said Hammond.