Another major issue facing Panetta in the closing weeks of his tenure is how many U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014. There currently are 66,000 in the country, down from a peak of about 100,000 in 2011.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of international forces in four southern provinces, including the key province of Kandahar, told reporters Thursday that he foresees further troop cuts in coming months, but he did not specify whether he was talking only about U.S. troops.
“I fully expect by next summer we will have less ISAF forces here because we’ll need less ISAF forces,” Abrams said, using the acronym for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force. He said believes fewer will be needed because Afghan forces will be more capable by then.
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