August 16, 2013 / 11:51 AM / 7 years ago

Poland to cut number of troops in Afghanistan in October

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will reduce the number of its soldiers stationed in Afghanistan in October to 1,000 from 1,600 as it moves to wind down its presence there before the NATO combat mission ends next year, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Friday.

The country had previously announced that its 14th troop rotation in Afghanistan starting in October would be its last.

“We are reducing the number of Polish soldiers in Afghanistan because we are preparing to end the withdrawal, as we announced in 2014,” Tusk said at an airbase in Nowy Glinnik, central Poland.

“The few who will remain will be there for training and advising purposes,” he said.

The U.S.-dominated, NATO-led force in Afghanistan currently numbers about 87,000 troops and is due to be disbanded next year. Most foreign combat troops will leave, handing over responsibilities for fighting Taliban insurgents to Afghan security forces.

After 2014, NATO plans to keep a slimmed-down training and advisory mission in Afghanistan.

Poland, which joined the mission in Afghanistan in 2002, has indicated it would be far more reluctant to take part in such foreign deployments in the future as it concentrates on modernizing its defenses at home.

On Thursday, President Bronislaw Komorowski called for an end to the “policy based on sending soldiers to far-away lands” because of high costs.

Reporting by Marcin Goettig and Chris Borowski; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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