US has plan to hand over Afghan combat missions: Report

A report says the US plan envisaged ending Afghan combat missions by 2014.

Washington: The US government has developed a plan to transfer combat missions in some areas of Afghanistan to Afghan security forces over the next 18 to 24 months, The New York Times reported.

Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the plan envisaged ending US combat missions in Afghanistan by 2014.

The report came after Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that the US military had to scale back operations and reduce "intrusiveness" into Afghan life or risk fuelling the Taliban insurgency.

The comments, a clear criticism of the US military`s counter-insurgency strategy, were met with dismay from US lawmakers.

They also put Karzai squarely at odds with US and NATO commander General David Petraeus, who has made capturing and killing militants a priority.

Karzai told The Washington Post the presence of about 100,000 US troops and especially "terrible" night raids conducted by US forces on Afghan homes, inflamed the emotions of Afghans, leading young men to join the insurgency.

According to The Times, the four-year plan to wind down US and allied fighting in Afghanistan will be presented to a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon later this week.

In many respects, the concept follows the precedent set in Iraq, where a similar troop surge and strategy shift under President George W Bush in 2007 enabled US-led coalition forces to eventually hand over security duties to the Iraqis region by region, the paper noted.

By last summer, President Barack Obama was able to pull out two-thirds of United States forces from Iraq and declare the US combat mission there over, The Times pointed out.

"Iraq is a pretty decent blueprint for how to transition in Afghanistan," the paper quotes one US official as saying.

"But the key will be constructing an Afghan force that is truly capable of taking the lead."