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Gen. Rodriguez said the first stage of the troop drawdown will begin later this month. Three battalions based in different parts of the country will finish their deployment and will not be replaced.

In addition to bolstering local military forces, Gen. Rodriguez also said the success of the U.S. mission depends on supporting the Afghan government.

“What is most critical is that we support good Afghan leaders,” he said, “and inspire other leaders to join in helping create a hopeful future.”

Gen. Rodriguez said that outside influences, such as Iran, have not increased efforts within the country since the announcement of the drawdown, noting that arms trafficking across the Iranian border remained “pretty consistent for the last several years.”