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Mar 20, 2012 11:18 AM by Matt Stafford

Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says mission on track

WASHINGTON (AP) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says winding down the decade-plus war is on track and the U.S. has no intention to stay in the country forever.

Marine Gen. John Allen tells the House Armed Services Committee coalition forces are making progress in handing over security to the Afghans, with the expectation that U.S. combat forces will be out of Afghanistan by December 2014.

Allen faced a skeptical and war-weary Congress more than 10 years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the start of the conflict.

Allen noted in his appearance that U.S. forces will be reduced from 90,000 to 68,000 by October. After that, he says he'll assess the insurgent threat, the size of the force and the coalition's progress before making a recommendation on further reductions in 2013.

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