May 25 - Some Afghan's welcome early French pull-out as NATO General awaits signs of impact. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
French President Francois Hollande on the ground in Afghanistan. Hollande has promised to pull French troops out of the war by the end of this year -- nearly two years ahead of the timetable. On the ground the impact is unclear. NATO Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON, SAYING: "We are waiting further decisions from France on how the future engagement of the French army of French defense forces is going to be here in Afghanistan, as the President stated very clearly at the summit in Chicago, that France is going to stay engaged in other forms with and in Afghanistan. That we have to wait for before we can come to any conclusions." Some residents are confident. (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) KABUL RESIDENT, SAIFULRAHMAN, SAYING: "If French troops are planning to leave Afghanistan tomorrow, we prefer for them to leave our country today - now. Because our Afghan forces are capable to guard their country. We don't have problem." Others say Afghan forces will need a lot of help (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) HAMID KHAN, RESIDENT OF KABUL, SAYING: "Our government should try to provide security in the country, and must work hard to hold it after the pull out of French troops. Also, we demand the world to support our country in all parts: financially; economically; in order to help Afghan forces to take the security." Jacobson says Afghan forces will have certain advantages. (SOUNDBITE) (English)BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON, SAYING: "They have advantages that we have to compensate with in part with technology. They are children of this country. They are sons of these villages. They understand the people and the villages they patrol in. They have their trust. They come into a position in areas where they take over responsibility -- where they are there to stay." The war in Afghanistan has lasted more than a decade and cost the lives of more than 3,000 foreign soldiers. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters