By lex, on July 16th, 2011
The formal end of the Canadian combat mission, commemorated in a ceremony last week at NATO’s main base in the south, marked the first battlefield exit by a core member of the U.S.-led coalition. With the departure of 2,850 combat troops, an ally that had deployed forces to Afghanistan in the earliest days of the nearly 10-year-old war bowed out.
Allied nations with forces in Afghanistan have made no secret of their wish to follow suit, particularly in the wake of President Obama’s decision to withdraw 33,000 American troops, about one-third of the total here, by the end of next summer. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, visiting Afghanistan this week, said he planned to bring home 1,000 of France’s 4,000 troops by the end of next year. Qualms about the mission have been growing in France, spurred by Wednesday’s deaths of five French soldiers in a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan.
The German government has also said it wants to pare its presence. Britain said this month it would bring home 450 troops in the next six months.
The pullbacks will place a heavier burden on those troops left behind, most of whom are Americans. Some field commanders have made no secret of their worries that the drawdown is too fast and too steep.
Senior U.S. officials have been energetically seeking to reassure allies and the Afghan people that the American drawdown will not be “precipitous,” in the words of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. But Western envoys say the U.S. pullback cannot help but trigger a reevaluation of their own military stance.
“If the Americans, who gathered this force, are on the way out, how can it be expected that anyone else will want to prolong their presence?” asked one European diplomat in Kabul who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about his country’s views.
It’s a fair cop.
* 10-31-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 10-31-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.