WASHINGTON (RNN/AP) - The first of 10,000 U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July as the United States begins the task of turning over security to Afghans and withdrawing from a nearly 10 year war, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.
The 10,000 troops will be home by the end of the year and another 23,000 troops will withdraw and be back on U.S. soil by July 2012.
Those forces represent the surge troops that Obama ordered to Afghanistan as part of his 2009 decision to send reinforcements to reverse the Taliban's battlefield momentum.
Obama is likely to bring home the first 10,000 forces home this year in two waves. Administration officials say about 5,000 are return this summer, with an additional 5,000 coming home by the end of the year.
The pace of withdrawing the rest of the 20,000 surge forces was unclear ahead of Obama's announcement.