Handover to Afghan troops will start in few months

Associated Press
Defense Secretary Robert Gates pins Combat Infantry badges to soldiers at Forward Operating Base Connolly, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. Gates arrived today in Afghanistan for an unannounced visit during a tour of the region this week.  (AP Photo/Win McNamee, Pool)

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Senior U.S. military commanders say the transition of security responsibilities from U.S. to Afghan troops will begin in the next several months.

They say the handover will probably include districts in southern Afghanistan — a restive region that once spawned the birth of the Taliban.

The transition is a cornerstone of the Obama administration's commitment to begin withdrawing U.S. forces by June 2011, but it will hinge on U.S. and Afghan forces' ability to keep the Taliban at bay next spring.

U.S. Maj. Gen. David Mills says one of the prime candidates for the initial handover is Nawa in Helmand Province. U.S. forces are already moving to the outskirts of the city.

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