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Troops Hope Most 'Trigger-Pullers' Stay As Withdrawal Begins

Good morning.

Reactions are coming in to President Obama's announcement last night that the U.S. will bring about 33,000 military personnel home from Afghanistan by the fall of 2012.

-- Soldiers Say Withdrawal Should Focus On Non-Combat Troops: From Afghanistan, NPR's Tom Bowman said onMorning Edition that in the past month he's gotten "a cross-section of opinions" from U.S. forces on the ground and that "almost everyone we've talked with, from sergeants to generals say 'you really should not take out combat troops' " this year. "Success is somewhat fragile and ... they're worried about taking out troops at this point," Tom adds. So, he says, the troops he's spoken with hope the first phase of the withdrawal focuses on support troops, not "trigger-pullers."

-- "Wary Afghans Worry U.S. Is Repeating History":"President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw one-third of U.S. forces in Afghanistan over the next 14 months conjured up uneasy memories for Afghans concerned that their American allies could leave the country before the job is done." ( The Wall Street Journal)

-- "GOP Field Split On Obama's Afghanistan Drawdown": "Republican presidential hopefuls were united in their rejection of President Barack Obama's plan to begin scaling back American forces in Afghanistan. But they were divided on whether he went too far or not nearly far enough." ( Politico)

-- On Capitol Hill, A "Measured Response": "Obama's decision drew a measured response from Capitol Hill, where some Democrats indicated that they will continue to pressure the president for a faster withdrawal. In a statement, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called the plan a 'positive development, although in my view the conditions on the ground justify an even larger drawdown of U.S. troops.' Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement that he is 'concerned that the withdrawal plan that President Obama announced tonight poses an unnecessary risk to the hard-won gains that our troops have made thus far in Afghanistan and to the decisive progress that must still be made.' " ( The Washington Post)

-- "France Follows U.S. In Troop Withdrawal":"French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced the phased withdrawal of its 4,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan. A statement said the French would follow the timetable of US withdrawals announced by President Barack Obama." ( BBC News)

-- Britain Will Keep Its Force Level Under "Constant Review": British Prime Minister David Cameron "has welcomed Barack Obama's announcement that the U.S. will withdraw about a third of its forces from Afghanistan next year as the U.S. president declared the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban a success. In a statement issued on Thursday, the prime minister said the UK would keep its own force levels in Afghanistan 'under constant review.' 'I have already said there will be no UK troops in combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015 and, where conditions on the ground allow, it is right that we bring troops home sooner,' said Cameron." ( The Guardian)

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