Following are details concerning Defense Department plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan in 2006.
- The number of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan will decline by about 2,500 next year due to a troop deployment change announced by the Department of Defense on Dec. 20.
The readjustment will bring U.S. force levels in Afghanistan to approximately 16,500, from the nearly 19,000 troops serving there today.
- An expanded NATO contingent and improvements in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police are enabling the reduced American presence.
- The 4 th Brigade, 10 th Mountain Division will not deploy as a brigade unit as previously announced in December 2004.
- Instead, one battalion-sized task force of approximately 1,200 soldiers will be sent to assist transition of the Coalition operations to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in southern Afghanistan in mid 2006.
- The ISAF contingent in the south will include troops from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Romania and Canada.
- The remainder of the 4 th Brigade will remain at Fort Polk, La. They will be ready to deploy to Afghanistan in 15 days if required.
- A significant part of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan is training and equipping the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.
- The Afghan National Army now stands at about 27,000 troops. Afghan soldiers work closely with U.S. Special Forces during counterinsurgency operations.
About 55,000 Afghan police have been trained and deployed. They attend to local law enforcement.
- The United States remains committed to the counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan.
- U.S. forces will continue to press the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban elements that want to continue to fight.
- Even with the force adjustment, the United States will remain the largest troop and financial contributor to the overall security mission in Afghanistan.
- The troop reduction is another step in the success story in Afghanistan, which includes the opening of the first session of Afghanistan's new parliament Dec. 19.
- More than 12.5 million Afghans voted in the Sept. 18 elections for parliament.