Last US 'Surge' Troops Leave Afghanistan
33K that went over 2 years ago are now out of the country
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2012 7:03 PM CDT
In this 2011 photo, a US Marine sniper wipes sweat from his eyes as his spotter looks for concealed militants in the Gesresk Valley, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(Newser) – Nearly two years after President Obama ordered 33,000 more US troops to Afghanistan to tamp down the escalating Taliban violence, the last of those surge troops have left the country, US officials said today. The withdrawal leaves 68,000 American forces in the war zone. The number peaked at about 101,000 last year, and they have been coming out slowly over the past several months. All combat forces are scheduled to be out at the end of 2014.

Today's development may be a welcome milestone for the US, but the move comes as the security transition to Afghan forces is in trouble, most notably by a spike in attacks in which Afghan Army and police troops, or insurgents dressed in their uniforms, have been attacking and killing US and NATO forces. The attacks call into question the core strategy that relies on NATO troops working shoulder to shoulder with Afghans, training them to take over the security of their own country so the US and its allies can leave.