Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced today that American forces will withdraw from a major combat role and focus on advising and training a year ahead of the scheduled complete withdrawal date.
BRUSSELS — In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home. [...]
Mr. Panetta offered no details of what stepping back from combat would mean, saying only that the troops would move into an “advise-and-assist” role to Afghanistan’s security forces. Such definitions are typically murky, particularly in a country like Afghanistan, where American forces are spread widely among small bases across the desert, farmland and mountains, and where the native security forces have a mixed record of success at best.
The defense secretary offered the withdrawal of the United States from Iraq as a model. American troops there eventually pulled back to large bases and left the bulk of the fighting to the Iraqis.
Panetta didn't offer many specifics but, if you follow the withdrawal from Iraq as a model, which was seemingly successful, there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
You can expect to see a parade of "experts" who will now tell us that setting time tables emboldens the enemy and is equivalent to waving the white flag. Claims that were proven to be patently false in Iraq. And these are the same people who said we would be greeted as liberators a decade ago.