President Obama listens as Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington Jan. 11, 2013
(CBS NEWS) -- Eager to end a war he didn't begin, President Obama announced in January plans to speed up the withdrawal
of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In Tuesday's State of the Union address,
the president will announce a milestone in the timetable on that
drawdown, a senior administration official said.
Obama will announce that 34,000 U.S. troops will return home from
Afghanistan by this time next year, decreasing by half the number of
U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan," the official told CBS News.
"Further reductions will continue through the end of 2014 as Afghans
take full responsibility for their security."
remain about the ability of Afghans to maintain their own security
against repeated attacks from al Qaeda, as well as numerous insurgent
groups in both their own country and from Pakistan. The White House
insists, however, that their timetable will work.
forces continue to grow stronger, with 352,000 now in training or on
duty," the administration official said. "Afghan forces are leading
nearly 90 percent of operations across the country, and by this spring,
they'll be assuming the lead across the entire country, with the United
States and ISAF stepped back to a train, advise and assist role."
are an estimated 100,000 international troops still in Afghanistan,
with 66,000 of those being Americans. The U.S. and its partners have
said they expect all those troops to leave the country by the end of
Leading the drawdown of international security forces is the recently promoted Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who took command of the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Sunday.
outgoing commander, Marine Gen. John Allen, said he told Dunford that
the end won't be pretty, adding: "Our victory here will never be marked
by a parade or a point in time on a calendar when victory is declared."