The Obama administration has worked up a plan to complete the US combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014, gradually shifting security into the hands of Afghan troops, insiders tell the New York Times. The piecemeal strategy, which echoes the phased Iraq withdrawal, will be presented at a NATO meeting in Lisbon this week. The Times calls the plan the “most concrete” since Obama’s inauguration.
Conditions on the ground will be the deciding factor in each stage of the transition, which will spread to more areas “every few months” until 2012, the Times notes. If all goes well, US and NATO troops could withdraw by late 2014, but tens of thousands will probably stay in the country to help train and support Afghan forces. The news comes after Afghan president Hamid Karzai called for a troop reduction in a Washington Post interview.