But he ultimately rejected appeals from the Pentagon for a slower drawdown to safeguard gains against the Taliban and his decision will be seen as a political defeat for talismanic war General David Petraeus.
The Taliban "considers this announcement, which currently withdraws 10,000 soldiers this year, only as a symbolic step which will never satisfy the war-weary international community or the American people," it said.
The statement, emailed to media by Taliban spokesman Tariq Ghazniwal, also accused the United States of "repeatedly giving false hopes to its nation about ending this war and claiming baselessly about victory".
Though the drawdown will nominally remove 33,000 surge troops, only between 3,000 and 5,000 troops will actually be leaving any time soon.U.S. military officials have indicated that despite the expected reduction in forces, the U.S. will maintain a military presence in Afganistan beyond 2014.
Soldier on the Ground telling the truth