Afghanistan drawdown: Germany and France follow Obama's lead
US allies in Europe are mostly supportive of Obama's withdrawal plan, saying the time is right.
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President Obama's Afghanistan withdrawal announcement Wednesday night opened the door for European countries involved in the war to announce their own withdrawal plans. The prospect of drawdown is likely to be popular in Europe, but like US military officials, some European officials expressed concern that the withdrawal is coming too soon.
Ten thousand US soldiers will be pulled out by the end of 2011. Another 20,000 or so will come home by summer 2012 and the remaining troops – about 100,000 – will be drawn down steadily until full responsibility is handed over to Afghanistan in 2014.
Britain, the second largest contributor to NATO forces, previously pledged to withdraw its 10,000 troops by 2015. After Mr. Obama's announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron would only say that Britain would keep its troop levels "under constant review" and that he would withdraw some of them earlier than 2015 if circumstances allowed, The Guardian reported.
British Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Sir David Richards said that Afghanistan's insurgency is under "real and sustained pressure" and that he supported Obama's plans for withdrawal.
"Their momentum has been halted and in some areas reversed. This summer will see the continuation of this process with Afghan forces beginning to take the lead for security in a number of areas including Lashkar Gah, the headquarters for British forces.
"The Afghan army and police are increasingly able to plan, direct and execute operations to provide security for their own people. But our collective military efforts need to continue until Afghan security forces are able to assume responsibility for security across Afghanistan by the end of 2014."
"At the end of the day, Afghanistan is where the Afghans live. It is their country and the political solution has got to be Afghan-delivered and Afghan-led. We have given them the change it is up to them to take it," he said, according to the Guardian.