U.S.-Led Forces Formally End Afghanistan Combat Mission

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Afghan Forces Left to Battle Taliban Largely on Their Own.

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan formally ended its combat mission on Sunday, leaving Afghan forces to battle a resilient Taliban insurgency largely on their own.

The International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, is being replaced with a smaller force that will focus more narrowly on counterterrorism and training Afghan soldiers and policemen.

President Barack Obama hailed the change in mission.

“Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” he said.

The U.S. military’s involvement here will continue. Some 18,000 foreign troops—about 10,600 of them American—are staying under the terms of two security pacts the Afghan government signed with the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in September.

The new force has two components. A NATO mission dubbed “Resolute Support” will focus exclusively on training and advising Afghan troops. U.S. forces, in addition to taking part in Resolute Support, will also have a limited combat role as part of a separate counterterrorism mission.

At a ceremony on Sunday on a basketball court at the international military’s Kabul headquarters, the coalition’s commander, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, put away the ISAF flag and unfurled the Resolute Support banner.

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