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Fri Feb 3, 2012, 01:28 PM

Pentagon Says Afghanistan War Costs Dip as Surge Troops Leave [View all]

By Tony Capaccio - Feb 3, 2012 12:00 AM ET

The Pentagonís monthly spending in Afghanistan dipped to $5.3 billion in October and November, down from an average of $7.8 billion a month in the fiscal year that ended in September, according to data compiled by the Defense Department comptrollerís office.

The drop reflects savings as U.S. military levels in Afghanistan decline. The U.S. stationed 98,000 troops there in October and 97,000 troops in November. There are 89,000 today, as the U.S. continues to draw down from the surge of 33,000 troops President Barack Obama approved in late 2009. An additional 23,000 troops are to be removed by September.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, attending his second Brussels meeting of NATO defense ministers since taking office last July, told reporters traveling with him Feb. 1 that the U.S.-led coalition would shift primarily to advising Afghan forces in 2013 as part of a transition to ending its primary combat role by 2014.

The U.S. still plans to keep some troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to conduct counter-terrorism missions and advise Afghan forces, Panetta said.



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