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Obama to take 34,000 troops out of Afghanistan

(WASHINGTON TIMES) The U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan has shifted into a higher gear, with nearly half the troops set to leave over the next year.

President Obama plans to announce in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night that 34,000 troops will leave Afghanistan in the next 12 months as the U.S. prepares to end combat operations there by the end of 2014, according to a senior administration official.

Mr. Obama is still negotiating with Afghan officials about how large a residual U.S. force will remain and during the speech will give more specifics about U.S. involvement in the country after 2014, although there are no plans to make any further announcements about troop numbers Tuesday night, the administration official said.