US, NATO ready plan to hand off Afghanistan combat
The United States and its NATO allies are readying plans to pull away from the front lines in Afghanistan next year as President Barack Obama and fellow leaders try to show that the unpopular war is ending.
Top military and diplomatic officials from the U.S. and NATO allies met Wednesday to finalize the combat handover program and a strategy for world support to the weak Afghan government and fledgling military after 2014.
At the same time, the nations that have prosecuted a 10-year war against a Taliban-led insurgency are reassuring nervous Afghans they will not be left to fend for themselves.
The competing messages aimed at different audiences are both challenged by current events in Afghanistan, where insurgents staged an impressive, coordinated attack last weekend that struck at the heart of the U.S.-backed government and international enclave in Kabul while Taliban leaders boycott peace talks the U.S. sees as the key to a safe exit.