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US may reposition instead of "withdrawing" troops from Afghanistan: NATO official

By Nitsi

Washington, Sept 8 (ANI): US troops may be repositioned around the war-torn Afghanistan, or engaged in training of Afghan police and soldiers, rather than be withdrawn from the country, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.

Troops "might be needed in other regions" or could be engaged in training of Afghan forces. "Transition doesn't mean exit," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Rasmussen, as saying.

Even "if we transition a province here and there," soldiers in the area "cannot just leave Afghanistan," he sums up.

Rasmussen has even introduced a term "transition dividend," explaining that "what you might call a 'transition dividend' will be reinvested in other areas."

Gen David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, would now get 2,000 troops in addition to the surge of 30,000 US forces largely in place as of last week to train Afghan security forces, the bulk of which are expected to come from the US and the rest from other International Security Assistance Force member countries.

"There is no contradiction between a request for more trainers and a gradual transition" to Afghan security force control, Rasmussen said, adding that the transition would have to be "irreversible" because ISAF troops "won't be in position to take control back once we hand it over, as "that would be a disaster."

Obama had announced that a US troop drawdown from Afghanistan would begin in July 2011. But in June, he stepped back from considering it a fixed withdrawal date, and forwarded the idea that the date should be taken as a goal for US troops to start handing over of security responsibilities to the Afghan soldiers.

Petraeus had said that the withdrawal of U.S. troops would start with a general "thinning out" of forces rather than any large-scale drawdown from July 2011. (ANI)

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