"The Obama Administration and several of its partner countries are seeking to reduce U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan without jeopardizing existing gains. In a May 1, 2012, visit to Afghanistan, President Obama said the United States and its partners are within reach of the fundamental goal of defeating Al Qaeda, and he signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement that will likely keep some (perhaps 15,000 -- 20,000) U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 as advisors and trainers. During 2011-2014, the United States and its partners are gradually transferring overall security responsibility to Afghan security forces. U.S. forces, which peaked at about 99,000 in June 2011, are being reduced to about 68,000 by September 2012, and President Obama said that 'reductions will continue at a steady pace' from then until the completion of the transition to Afghan lead at the end of 2014. A key to the transition is to place Afghan forces in the security lead, with U.S. military involvement changing from combat to a training and advising role, by mid-2013. In keeping with the Strategic Partnership Agreement, on July 7, 2012 (one day in advance of a major donors' conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo) the United States named Afghanistan a 'Major Non-NATO Ally,' further assuring Afghanistan of longterm U.S. support. The Administration view is that, no matter the U.S. and allied drawdown schedule, Afghan stability after the 2014 transition is at risk from weak and corrupt Afghan governance and insurgent safe haven in Pakistan."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30588