Afghanistan drawdown to begin with support troops

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(Photo: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez)

The first troops to leave Afghanistan will be engineers and support troops, rather than combat soldiers, the New York Times reports, citing anonymous administration, Pentagon and military officials.

The U.S. military is sending as many as several thousand troops home from Afghanistan in July. Though officials cautioned that a complex assessment of troop numbers and mission priorities was still under way, and that no final decisions had been made.

The news comes as Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior commander, gets ready to testify before Congress today and Wednesday.

No  reduction of combat troops in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces is planned for the turbulent south. However, in Helmand Province, American troops could be moved from stable to more active areas.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce on Monday the transfer of six areas from NATO to Afghan control: Bamiyan and Panjshir Provinces, the cities of Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif and Lashkar Gah, and much of the province around the Afghan capital of Kabul. Few United States forces are in those areas, which are all relatively stable.

(via New York Times, AP)

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