(LONDON) — Britain plans to drawdown nearly half of its forces from Afghanistan next year ahead of the near-complete withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition troops by sometime in 2014.
With 9,000 forces currently deployed mostly in three provinces, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce on Wednesday that he will order 4,000 soldiers back home in 2013 and may go beyond that if the situation on the ground warrants it.
Cameron came to his decision based on assessments from his top officers in Afghanistan’s Helmand province and after conferring with his security team in London.
The British leader also informed President Obama about the plan to essentially halve the number of his forces in Afghanistan. Obama still hasn’t revealed what his drawdown plans are for 2013, with about 67,000 American boots still on the ground after more than 11 years of war.
It’s also expected that other NATO members with soldiers in Afghanistan could follow Britain’s lead and begin an accelerated withdrawal of their forces in the coming months.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has often spoken about having coalition troops leave his country sooner than later as his national army and police are poised to assume all security responsibilities despite some trepidation from the Pentagon that his optimism may be premature.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Steve Almasy, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Juliet Perry, Tim Hume and Livia Borghese, CNN