Handover to Afghan Troops Will Start in A Few Months

December 8, 2010 - 10:36 AM

Forward Operating Baase Howz-E-Madad, Afghanistan (AP) - The transition of security responsibilities from U.S. to Afghan troops will begin in the next several months, senior U.S. military commanders said Wednesday, and will probably include districts in southern Afghanistan -- a restive region that once spawned the birth of the Taliban.

The transition is a cornerstone of the Obama administration's commitment to begin withdrawing U.S. forces by June 2011, but it will hinge on U.S. and Afghan forces' ability to keep the Taliban at bay next spring, when insurgents traditionally revive their attacks.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of the International Security Assistance Force's joint command, told reporters that officials are looking at several places to begin the transition, but they probably won't make any final decisions for another three months.

One of the prime candidates, however, is Nawa in Helmand Province, where U.S. Maj. Gen. Richard Mills said his forces are already moving to the outskirts of the city.

"I think the conditions are set in certain parts of the province right now to be able to turn over significant responsibilities to the Afghans," Mills told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "Nawa is probably our most advanced district."