According to US Defense Secretary, Washington will seek to wind down combat operations in Afghanistan during 2013, more than a year before a deadline for withdrawal.
Leon Panetta US Defense Secretary while travelling to NATO summit said, the US hoped to switch to a role training and supporting Afghan forces.
There are around 99,0000 US troops based in Afghanistan, some 68,000 troops are due to remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2012.
Around 22,000 US troops are scheduled to return back to home this year.
Panetta said, ”Hopefully, by mid- to the latter part of 2013, we’ll be able to make … a transition from a combat role to a training, advice and assist role, which is basically fulfilling what Lisbon was all about.”
He also said Washington wanted to see all the NATO allies in Afghanistan – including France – “respect” the NATO timeline.
“We all went in here together and we’ll all go out together, but we have to do it on the basis of a strong alliance and a strong commitment that was made in Lisbon,” said Panetta.
This comes as NATO leaders agreed at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, that Afghan security forces should take over security responsibility in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, bringing an end to a mission that has dragged on for more than a decade.