"The Obama Administration and several of its partner countries appear to be seeking to wind down U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan more rapidly than was previously envisioned. Stated U.S. policy is to ensure that Afghanistan will not again become a base for terrorist attacks against the United States. Following policy reviews in 2009, the Obama Administration asserted that it was pursuing a well-resourced and integrated military-civilian strategy intended to pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan leadership from July 2011 until the end of 2014. During 2009 and 2010, 51,000 U.S. forces were added, bringing U.S. troop numbers to a high of about 99,000, with partners providing about 42,000. On June 22, 2011, President Obama announced that the policy had accomplished most major U.S. goals and that a drawdown of 33,000 U.S. troops would take place by September 2012--the first 10,000 were withdrawn by the end of 2011 and the remainder of that number will leave by September 2012. The transition to Afghan leadership began, as planned, in July 2011, and Afghan forces are now in the lead in areas that include over 50% of all Afghans. […] Afghan governance is perceived as particularly weak and corrupt, despite the holding of regular elections since 2004 and the establishment of several overlapping anti-corruption institutions. In order to frame the long-term security relationship, U.S. and Afghan officials are negotiating a 'strategic partnership,' although differences over U.S. latitude to conduct operations and to hold detainees have held up completion of that pact to date. […] U.S. officials also look to greater Afghanistan integration into regional trade and investment patterns--as part of a 'New Silk Road (NSR)' economic strategy--to help compensate for the reduction in foreign economic involvement in Afghanistan. Still, Afghanistan will likely remain dependent on foreign aid until 2025."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30588