"The role of the US military has not shifted or changed. The only firm plans that we have at this point is to drawdown some of the surge forces by the end of this year and additional tranche of surge forces by summer of next year. Beyond that any change that may be done in consultation with the government of Afghanistan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told the media.
The drawdown between now and 2014 would be at a steady pace, it would be conditions based and that remains the trajectory for US' effort as it continues to fight this war with Afghan and NATO partners, Little said in response to a question about reports that Pentagon and White House were planning to change the mission in Afghanistan.
"While the military drawdown would occur by the end of 2014, a strong partnership with Afghanistan would not end by the end of 2014. It will be a long term partnership, the contours of which are still be worked through," he said.
"The focus of our troops, the focus of alliance and the coalition in Afghanistan right now is on accomplishing the strategy that we have all set for, which is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven ever again and to continue to take the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies," Navy Captain John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defence for media operations, said.
The strategy has not changed, nor has the focus on executing this, Kirby said, adding the transition in 2014 is all about a "confident and capable" Afghan security forces. He said the US continues to believe that the reconciliation process, a vital part of the peace effort, is going to be Afghan-led, that the Pakistanis should have a role.
Pentagon officials said the Haqqani network continues to be a major threat to the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. As such, "relentless pursuit" of the Haqqani network remains the top priority for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, they said.
"They felt increasing pressure in recent months and as we have said they remain dangerous but they are feeling the heat. That pressure needs to be sustained because they remain threat to Afghanistan and our forces there," Little said.
Kirby said, "Haqqani network is lethal, deadly and continue to conduct operation inside Afghanistan and is a growing concern for our commanders out there and are taking actions on the Afghan side of the border."