From Kabul to Helmand province, security and government officials in Afghanistan welcomed Obama's announcement of a troop withdrawal starting at the end of the year.Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered congratulations to his people."Today we welcome the announcement of his Excellency the President of United States about the withdrawal of 10,000 of their troops this year and the withdrawal of 33,000 by the middle of next year, this is a good step for their benefit and the people of Afghanistan. We support this decision and I congratulate the people of Afghanistan. I wish the people of Afghanistan safety in their country with (the security situation in) their own capable hands."Afghanistan's defense minister says his troops are ready for the handover.Afghan Defense Ministry Spokesman General Zahir Azimy said, "The Afghan national army is fully ready to take the responsibility in the area, when the US troops leave and they fill the gap. There are no worries in this regard at all."In Helmand, where violence and corruption are rampant, police officers echoed the sentiment and sought to reassure the public. "We are prepared to take the security transition from foreign forces. We welcome the decision of our president, the police is fully ready to take responsibility in Helmand province," said police officer Mahmoud Gull.Despite the push to withdraw from Afghanistan, doubts still remain about whether Afghan forces, plagued by desertion and illiteracy, will be up to the task.Australia, the biggest troop contributor to Afghanistan outside of NATO, said it would stay the course.Australian Prime Minsiter Julia Gillard said, "As recently as today, the chief of the defense force has confirmed to me that those one thousand five hundred Australian personnel are required to acquit our mission in Uruzghan province. And in terms of the announcement of the United States, our work in Uruzghan province would continue in the same way."Obama said the United States would continue to works towards a political settlement with the Taliban, although officials acknowledge a deal would only be in the distant future.