Obama sees end to US combat role in Afghanistan by 2014

With NATO leaders making plans for Afghans to take chief role in fighting Taliban, US and UK see new roles for troops in future.

November 21, 2010 13:28
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama gives a media briefing a

Obama stern 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

LISBON, Portugal — US President Barack Obama on Saturday said for the first time he wants US troops out of major combat in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the date he and other NATO leaders set for moving Afghans into the lead role in fighting the Taliban.

Allies had different interpretations of that target's meaning.

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Capping a two-day summit of 28 NATO leaders in this Atlantic port city, Obama said that after a series of public disputes with Afghan President Hamid Karzai — and despite the likelihood of more to come — the US and its NATO partners have aligned their aims for stabilizing the country with Karzai's eagerness to assume full control.

"My goal is to make sure that by 2014 we have transitioned, Afghans are in the lead and it is a goal to make sure that we are not still engaged in combat operations of the sort we're involved in now," Obama told a closing news conference.

For some US allies, 2014 is more than a goal when it comes to shifting their troops from a combat role.

"There will not be British troops in large numbers and they won't be in a combat role" by 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron said. But he added, however, Britain has no intention of abandoning Afghanistan any time soon.

"We may be helping to train their army, we may still be delivering a lot of aid, in effect, because we don't want this country to go back to being a lawless space where the terrorists can have bases," Cameron told Sky News television.

Canada is ending its combat role in 2011.

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