There are currently around 100,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, constituting 2/3 of total NATO forces. Commentators suggest that the initial withdrawal will be a ‘modest’ 2000-3000, many of which will be so-called support troops. Gates, currently on a farewell tour of the country–which has seen a recent increase in violence–quipped “If it were up to me I’d leave the shooters until last”.
Gates vistis Forward Operating Base Dwyer in Kandahar province
He added: “Nobody wants to give up the gains that have been won at hard cost and nobody wants to give our allies an excuse to run to the exits”