Committed to Leave
French President, Francois Hollande, recently visited French troops in Afghanistan and reiterated his campaign promise to withdraw all troops by the end of the year. Hollande arrived in Afghanistan with his defense and foreign ministers and after meeting with troops, held a meeting with President Karzai. Though the pullout will be complicated, Hollande has already ordered to withdraw 2000 troops by this year but has specifically guaranteed French commitment to provide support in other ways that include training and cooperation in culture, health and education.
Though the pace of withdrawal has not yet been decided, Hollande alleviated NATO concerns at the recent conference in Chicago, stating that withdrawal will be done in an orderly fashion keeping in line with NATO policies, thereby not disrupting the original withdrawal strategy scheduled for 2014.
A total of 83 French soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the mission started in 2001. At one point, France contributed almost 4,000 of the 130,000 troops in the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, making it the fourth-largest contingent. The majority of French soldiers are stationed in Nijrab and 600 will be replaced with Afghan soldiers when forces start to withdraw.