Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. will bring home 3,800 troops from Afghanistan next year, almost half the current strength serving in Helmand province, as it hands over security to local forces.
Troop numbers, which have already been reduced from 9,500 to 9,000 by the end of 2012, will fall to about 5,200 after the end of next year, Cameron told lawmakers in London today. All North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led operations in the country are due to finish by the end of 2014. The U.K. remains committed to supporting Afghanistan beyond next year.
“Because of the success of our forces and the Afghan national security forces and the fact 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 in 2013 and 2014,” Cameron said.
Cameron discussed Afghanistan with U.S. President Barack Obama in an hour-long video conference yesterday, during which they agreed that NATO’s strategy to withdraw combat troops by the end of next year is “on track.”
“This would present further opportunities for International Security Assistance Force countries to bring troops home next year and they agreed to stay in close touch as detailed plans develop,” Cameron’s office said in an e-mail.
“In terms of post-2014 we haven’t made final decisions yet,” Cameron told the House of Commons. “We have said very clearly: no one in a combat role, nothing like the number of troops there are now.” The premier said the U.K. had “told the Afghans we will provide the officer training academy they have asked for.”
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