NATO to hand combat role to Afghanistan

, ,
NATO to hand combat role to Afghanistan

NATO to hand combat role to Afghanistan(Chicago) – NATO will hand over the lead role in combat operations to Afghan forces across the country by mid-2013, alliance leaders said as they charted a path out of a war that has lost public support and strained budgets in Western nations.
A NATO summit in Chicago will formally endorse a US-backed strategy for a gradual exit from Afghanistan, a move aimed at holding together an allied force scrambling to cope with France’s decision to withdraw its troops early.
President Barack Obama and NATO partners want to affirm to public that the end is in sight in a conflict that has dragged on for more than a decade while at the same time trying to reassure Afghans that they will not be abandoned.
“There will be no rush for the exits,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said as the summit got under way. NATO’s plan is to shift full responsibility to Afghan forces for security across the country by the middle of next year and then withdraw most of the alliance’s 130,000 combat troops by the end of 2014, Rasmussen said. While foreign forces will continue to fight the Taliban and other militants as necessary – and it may be very necessary – the new mission for US and NATO troops will assume a new focus on advising and supporting Afghan soldiers.
U.S. President Obama, who once called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity” but is now looking for an orderly way out.