US military to withdraw military trainers from Pakistan

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani

The United States military plans to begin to withdraw military training troops from Pakistan after the Pakistani government requested the departure of the troops.

Pentagon spokesperson David Lapan said that official sources from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad requested a scaling down of the American training force, which is estimated to be composed of between 120 and 300 troops, on Wednesday.

"We were recently notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the US to reduce its footprint in Pakistan. Accordingly, we have begun those reductions."

The majority of the US presence in question is comprised of Special Forces troops, who train, prepare and give advice to Pakistani soldiers as part of a wider effort to counter Islamist fighter and terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda. Mr. Lapan did not specify exactly how many troops would be leaving, though unnamed military sources have said that the total force will number around 50 after the reduction.

The impending withdrawal of troops highlights the tensions between the US and Pakistan in the wake of the American raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad home, resulting in the death of America's most wanted terrorist. Prior to this announcement, concerns within Pakistan have been raised about whether the attack violated Pakistan's sovereignty, and some lawmakers have called for a review of Pakistani–US relations.

In the days following the raid Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that any comparable raids in Pakistan in the future would lead to a re-evaluation of the nation's military and political collaboration with the US. He also told his commanders of the desire to have the numbers of American troops in Pakistan be brought down to "the minimum level."