Afghanistan Commander IDs 3 Units to Be Part of Drawdown This Month

VIDEO: The president details plan for pulling troops out of Afghanistan.
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The No. 2 commander in Afghanistan identified three units that will be part of the troop drawdowns that are to begin this month. The units comprise the first elements of the drawdown of 30,000 of American troops in Afghanistan to be completed next September.

In a video conference with Pentagon reporters, Lt. Gen. Dave Rodriguez said the drawdown will consist mostly of outgoing units not being replaced by incoming units, though there will be a few whose tours of duty will be shortened. He did not identify which units will have their tours shortened, but he did say three units currently scheduled to leave will not be replaced.

The top operational commander in Afghanistan said the drawdown is doable because of the growth of the Afghan Security Forces by 90,000 troops this year.

Rodriguez did not feel the drawdown pace would put troops at risk.

"The decision has been made and now it's our turn to execute the decision," he said. "And we can do that without a significant change in risk."

However, the drawdown and transition will be handled carefully.

"We will stay the course with a plan and not chase transition," Rodriguez said. "There is no faster way to dilute our efforts and undo all we have accomplished."

Two Army battalions will leave in July and not be replaced, Rodriguez said.

The Pentagon later identified the units as two battalions totaling 800 soldiers serving with the Iowa National Guard's 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division. One of the battalions is based in Kabul, the other in the relatively peaceful province of Parwan located north of the Afghan capital.

Rodriguez also identified the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment as another unit that will not be replaced. Currently serving in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, the 800-Marine combat battalion will not be replaced when it leaves this fall.

According to Rodriguez, the 5,000 troops that draw down this summer will be a mix of combat troops, combat support troops, combat service support units and headquarters units.

"It will be a gradual drawdown, and I'm confident that we can draw down those troops through the end of this year and accomplish our mission," he said.

The additional 5,000 troops that will come out later this year will be determined by Rodriguez's successor, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, and Gen. Petraeus' successor, Lt. Gen. John Allen, sometime in the fall.

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