Feb. 15 - A NATO general is confident that Afghan forces can take the lead in security as the U.S. prepares to draw down almost half of its forces. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: " Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over." U.S. President Barack Obama announces the withdrawal of about half of U.S. troops in in Afghanistan in his annual State of the Union address. He also renewed his pledge to war-weary Americans public that the remaining troops will move into a support role this spring. On the ground in Kabul, Brigadier General Gunter Katz says Afghan security forces are ready. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL GUNTER KATZ, SAYING: "They will be able to carry on to fight successfully throughout the summer and the next years to come (EDIT) We are still herer with a significant number of troops, but again our man focus in the future will be training, assisting and advising." The timing of the transition is key. It will begin in the spring time -- the so-called fighting season in Afghanistan. This will give Afghanistan a trial run on handling its security -- while there is still back up on the ground.