French officials held a “handover” ceremony today in the Kapisa Province of Afghanistan, marking the withdrawal of the last 500 French combat troops from the nation, and ending their role in direct combat, a bit ahead of schedule.
France decided to speed the pullout after several soldiers were slain earlier this year in a “green-on-blue” attack, and after the election President Hollande decided to speed it even further, promising to have all combat troops out by the end of the year.
Combat troops, but not all troops. Some 1,500 French soldiers remain in Afghanistan in “non-combat roles,” and are expected to stay for the foreseeable future. Most are focused on shipping equipment back to France, while a smaller number are involved in training.
The French are the latest of several NATO nations looking to withdraw from Afghanistan, with most hoping to have at least the combat part of their mission over by the end of 2014. The US has a deal in place to keep troops in Afghanistan through at least 2024.
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