(WASHINGTON) — President Obama will announce at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that 34,000 troops — more than half of those currently serving in the combat region — will be back from Afghanistan a year from Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the speech.
Roughly 66,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan. The military has proposed keeping several thousand troops in the country after 2014 as advisers, trainers and logistical support for Afghan forces; the White House has said it remains open to pulling out all troops entirely.
In January, during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama said that most U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end this spring, signaling a quickening troop drawdown that will bring the decade-long war to a close at the end of 2014.
“Our troops will continue to fight alongside Afghans when needed, but let me say it as plainly as I can: Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission — training, advising, assisting Afghan forces,” Obama said on Jan. 11 at a news conference in Washington, D.C.
The president’s comments planned for the State of the Union address will detail specific numbers along with that new mission.
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