President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Friday that the U.S. military will end its combat mission in Afghanistan this spring, several months earlier than expected, and shift instead to a supporting role.
“The reason we went to war in the first place is now within reach,” Obama said in a joint news conference with Karzai. “Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission — training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty.”
Karzai said that starting this spring, Afghan forces would “be fully responsible for providing security and protection to the Afghan people.”
Obama said he was awaiting recommendations from military advisers on scaling back U.S. troop levels and said he would announce “the next phase” of the U.S. drawdown in the coming months.
Obama said the U.S. military’s path remains clear and that the war is moving toward a “responsible end” in 2014.
Remaining at issue is an immunity agreement for any U.S. troops staying on through a drawdown, shielding them from Afghan law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.