Welcoming President Barack Obama’s new Afghan policy, the top US military commander today said the decision to start withdrawing of troops from the war-torn country in 18 months is not an exit, but it is a strategy of transfer and transition.

“The strategy is not an exit strategy per se, but more about transfer and transition,” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, was quoted as saying by American Forces Press Service.

In his new Afghan policy, Obama announced to send 30,000 additional US troops to Afghanistan in next six months and a start of withdrawal of forces in 18 months.

“The President is really sending the message that we are not going to be there forever,” Mullen said, adding: “this strategy really focuses on transferring responsibility to the Afghans as quickly as we can.”

Noting that the strategy is based on a very deliberate and educational process, Mullen said: “It has allowed us to explore the breadth and depth of this enormously complex challenge, and in the end, the president has made the decision to add these 30,000 troops.”

Mullen said the voice of the military has been heard by Obama while making his decision on Afghanistan.

“I’ve been at the table in these discussions from beginning to end, and my voice has been heard. I’m very comfortable with that. I’ve provided my advice to the president, and as is always the case, we provide the advice, the president makes a decision, and we all march off and execute that decision,” he said.

The top US military commander termed “big challenge” for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to build up his security forces; besides providing good governance.

Mullen said US forces will be focused on a counterinsurgency, population-centric mode.

“The key goal here is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban,” he said, adding “the insurgency has gotten worse over the past couple of years.”

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