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Subject Panetta: US looking to end 'formal combat role' in Afghanistan in 2013
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Original Message Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, en route to a NATO summit in Brussels, said Wednesday for the first time that U.S. forces will look to end combat operations in Afghanistan next year.

Panetta apparently tipped off the Obama administration's timetable for combat operations, one which to date has not been made public. While U.S. and NATO forces still face a 2014 deadline to end the Afghan war, Panetta's comments suggest the administration is looking to accelerate the phases of that transition.

"Hopefully, by mid- to the latter part of 2013, we'll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training advise-and-assist role," Panetta told reporters traveling with him. "It's not going to be a kind of formal combat role that we are now."

The comments were reported in the Washington Post, and the Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that they are accurate.

Read more: [link to www.foxnews.com]

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