VAV!/The White House, Office of the Press Secretary/Washington, DC
In an historic speech this afternoon, in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama briefly shared the United States' next steps in Afghanistan, and how "we will bring America's longest war to a responsible end."
The President announced that 22,000 more troops will return home by the end of the year, ending the U.S. combat mission in December 2014.
Today, I want to be clear about how the United States is prepared to advance those missions. At the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 98,000 U.S. -- let me start that over, just because I want to make sure we don't get this written wrong. At the beginning of 2015, we will have approximately 9,800 U.S. servicemembers in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners. By the end of 2015, we will have reduced that presence by roughly half, and we will have consolidated our troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. One year later, by the end of 2016, our military will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul, with a security assistance component, just as we've done in Iraq.