Germany aims to reduce Afghan force by 500 this year

BERLIN - Germany will reduce its troop levels in Afghanistan by about 500 from the current force of 4,800 at the end of the year, the chief of staff of Germany's armed forces said in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday.
Volker Wieker, the inspector general of the Bundeswehr, told Deutschlandfunk radio that Germany was looking to reduce its contingent by about the same number of troops -- 500 -- that it added to the international deployment last year.
Germany, the third largest troop contributor, had previously said it hoped to begin pulling troops out from the end of 2011 but had not before mentioned any number nor set any deadline for a complete withdrawal.
US President Barack Obama said in June he planned to withdraw 33,000 of its 100,000 troops by the end of next summer.
Wieker called the US target ambitious and added: "One could have expected a somewhat longer time frame for that."