U.S., NATO Troops To Stay In Afghanistan Beyond 2014 Handover


Even with serious questions about President Hamid Karzai's commitment to the military strategy in Afghanistan, NATO members plan to announce an enduring presence there beyond 2014, the new target date for handing off security control to the Afghans.

At its weekend summit, NATO members will tout a three-year plan to transfer security responsibilities by 2014 to the Afghans, beginning early next year on a phased, conditions-based timeline, NATO officials told CNN.

NATO members plan to offer a message of reassurance to Afghanistan that the alliance will remain engaged after security control is transferred to Afghan forces. NATO will endorse an ""enduring partnership"" with Afghanistan, specifically focused on developing Afghan security forces and police, officials said.

Canada has already committed more than 900 personnel to train Afghan security forces, and other nations, including the Netherlands, are expected to follow suit.

But many troops from other nations will deploy to Afghanistan in noncombat roles, leaving more of the fight to the U.S. and British contingents.

U.S. President Barack Obama's challenge will be to urge wary NATO allies to stay the course in Afghanistan despite mixed results, growing public frustration, and the beginning of a drawdown of U.S. troops next summer, U.S. officials said.

Observers of the Afghan war said they will be keenly focused on Day 2 of the summit, Saturday, when Karzai is set to address the 48 NATO partners who make up the International Security Assistance Force.

Afghan officials said Karzai will seek specifics on how Afghans will work with NATO forces during the transfer of power. Karzai favors a joint command structure that would include the Afghan military.

The pivotal NATO summit comes amid heightened tensions between Karzai and his allies.

In an interview with the Washington Post published on Sunday, Karzai wa