Nearly three years after it began, the surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan is over. In December 2009, on President Barack Obama's order, an additional 30,000 troops headed to the war-torn country hoping to stabilize it and quash what was then widely viewed as a Taliban resurgence despite just more than eight years of war. Now, the last several hundred of the extra troops have left Afghanistan, according to a senior U.S. defense official. That still leaves about 68,000 American troops still in the nation, as was the case in late 2008. And violence continues to rage in parts of Afghanistan, including numerous high-profile "green-on-blue" attacks of late in which men dressed in Afghan police and military uniforms open fire on other Afghan security officers and coalition forces. If all goes to plan, the withdrawal of U.S. troops will continue as more security responsibilities are handed over to Afghan authorities. NATO leaders this May signed off on Obama's exit strategy that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014. After that, a new and different NATO mission will advise, train and assist an expected 350,000-strong Afghanistan force, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.
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