…out of combat, still training:
France ends combat mission in Afghanistan
French troops on Tuesday [Nov. 20] ended their last combat mission in Afghanistan by withdrawing from Kapisa province as part of an accelerated departure from the war-torn country.
The last 400 soldiers deployed to the volatile province started to leave Nijrab, the French base in Kapisa, at 10:00 am (0530 GMT) after a departure ceremony.
Of the 2,200 French soldiers still left in Afghanistan, a military official said that about 700 would return to France by the end of the year.
Around 50 trainers will remain based in Wardak province, west of Kabul, and 1,500 would stay in the Afghan capital, where most will be tasked with organising the final departure of French troops by the summer of 2013.
After that date, only several hundred French soldiers involved in cooperation or training missions will remain in the country, the military official said.
German ministers eyeing Afghan troop reduction
The foreign and defense ministers have floated a plan to reduce the number of German soldiers in Afghanistan from the current level of 4,760 to 3,300 by the end of February 2014. The policy is likely to pass swiftly.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière suggested in Berlin on Wednesday that the number of German forces in Afghanistan should be gradually reduced.
De Maizière said that the reduction was based “upon a justified, but not boundless, optimism” concerning progress on the ground.
Under the proposal, 3,300 soldiers from the German Bundeswehr would be stationed in Afghanistan by the end of February 2014, compared to some 4,760 currently.
The plan would have to clear the cabinet and then the lower house of parliament to come into effect, with unconfirmed reports suggesting this process would be swift. De Maizière said he expected widespread parliamentary support for the move.
Germany has already begun reducing the number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan; at one point as many as 5,350 Bundeswehr troops were serving in the country…
Mark Collins is prolific Ottawa blogger
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