Locals React To Afghanistan Troop Drawdown - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Locals React To Afghanistan Troop Drawdown

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There are currently almost 33,000 U.S. troops still serving in Afghanistan. The U.S. plans to keep a contingency force of just 9,800 troops after this year, mostly in Kabul and on Bagram Air Base.

The troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 only if the U.S. and Afghanistan sign an agreement.

While many in the Pentagon are not in favor of the plan, some people here in the QCA say they are happy the end is in sight.

"I say it's good," resident Gary Susich said. "We're getting our people home."

President Obama says the time has come to end America's longest war and some Davenport residents agree.

"It's time," resident Marshall Barnes said. "It's time. Bring our boys home."

After the U.S. ends its combat mission this year, the number of troops will drop by around a third. Then, Obama says there should be roughly half that number by the end of next year. By the end of 2016, even more troops will come home.

The U.S. plans to have a normal embassy level with a security assistance office.

"They still know that we are still there," said Susich. "We're still watching."

Colonel Greg Hapgood with the Iowa National Guard says the drawndown affects his troops.

"Since 9/11, our organization has completely changed how we do business, who we are, what we look like," he said.

Up to 5,500 men and women have deployed to Afghanistan since 2003 through the guard.

"Infantry units, or artillery, or cavalry, aviation, medical, logistics, just really a great number of units from Iowa have served in Afghanistan over the last 12 years," he said. "We don't have any units in Afghanistan from the Iowa National Guard."

He says just 90 members are deployed.

"We do have a small number of individuals that may serve there, but no units,"

As the U.S. moves forward with its drawdown, he says, "We've had fewer deployments over the last five years."

He says the guard's presence will shrink, too.

"It's really hard to project what the Department of Defense might need for numbers from your particular state, but we do believe that the numbers will continue to decrease," he said.

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