WASHINGTON - The United States will require "significant firepower" in Afghanistan in 2013-14, the commander of US and NATO forces there said, but decisions about further US troop reductions will only be made after this fall at the earliest.
"We're going to need combat power. I don't think anyone questions that," Marine General John Allen said on Wednesday. "I owe the president some real analysis on this."
Allen spoke to reporters two days after NATO leaders discussed Afghanistan's future in Chicago, embracing a plan to hand control to local security forces by the middle of 2013 and, Western leaders hope, to end the long, costly Afghan conflict.
By the end of this summer, Allen is due to withdraw all the 33,000 "surge" troops that President Barack Obama sent to battle the Taliban in 2009-2010.