US Combat Mission in Afghanistan to be Over by End of 2014

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a plan to maintain 9,800 military personnel in Afghanistan after the American combat mission ends there this year, pledging that he will bring the war there to "a responsible end."

“Now, we are finishing the job we started," he said in remarks at the White House.

Obama said that the 9,800 figure would be cut in half by the end of 2015, and the American contingent would be reduced to “a normal Embassy presence in Kabul” by the end of 2016, as he is close to leaving office.

The president also said that the United States will focus on two narrow missions after 2014 — training Afghan forces and supporting operations against al Qaeda.

"The bottom line is it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Obama said.

The plan assumes that Afghan leaders will sign a security agreement with the United States. Both Afghan presidential candidates have committed to signing it if they are elected, the official noted.

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