May 27 - U.S. President Barack Obama announces that the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan will draw down to below 5,000 by the close of 2015, saying it's time to ''turn the page'' on more than a decade in which so much of U.S. foreign policy was focused on war. Mana Rabiee reports.
President Barack Obama signaled the gradual close of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan on Tuesday. As few as 5,000 troops, he said, will remain in Afghanistan by the end of 2015. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "One year later, by the end of 2016, our military will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul with a security assistance component just as we have done in Iraq." For weeks, the administration has been quietly considering bringing U.S. troop presence well below the 10,000 mark, the minimum demanded by the U.S. military to train Afghan forces. The final numbers -- 9,800 troops after this year, and roughly half of that by the end of 2015 -- emerged during Obama's meetings with military commanders at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan over the weekend. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "The bottom line is it's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." That new U.S. relationship with Afghanistan, Obama said, will not be defined by war. It'll be shaped instead, he said, by financial, development and diplomatic support. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "This is how wars end in the 21st century -- not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments." Some 33,000 U.S. troops are now in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2011. Tuesday's decision means, when the president leaves office in early 2017, there'll be no measurable U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan.