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U.S. military set to reach Afghanistan troop target next month

The U.S. military is on track to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan by another 1,400 over the next month, military officials said.

President Obama last July announced his decision to keep 8,400 troops in the country through January 2017 instead of his original plan of 5,500, calling the security situation "precarious."

There are currently 9,800 uniformed Americans directly supporting the mission in Afghanistan, Department of Defense spokesman Adam Stump told Military Times.

U.S. military presence in Afghanistan peaked at more than 100,000 in 2011 at the height of the counterinsurgency campaign. Since January 2015, after the end of U.S.-led combat operations, U.S. troops have been training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces under the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

However, pockets of Afghanistan remain violent even as the U.S. military has reduced its footprint there and scaled back its overall focus to counter-terrorism operations and supporting the Afghan troops.

As recently as Nov. 3, two American service members, three Afghan troops and 26 civilians were killed during a battle in Kunduz province. The troops were working to clear a Taliban position and disrupt the group's operations in Kunduz district, and the civilian casualties may have been caused by airstrikes.

The incident, which also led to the deaths of two senior Taliban commanders, who were targeted in the raid, and 63 other insurgents, remains under investigation.

Less than two weeks after that, on Nov. 12, two soldiers and two American contractors were killed by a suicide bomber on Bagram Airfield. A third soldier died weeks later from his wounds.

The attack also wounded 15 American troops and one Polish soldier. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

The deadly attack on Bagram prompted the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistanto close temporarily. The closure also followed an insurgent attack on the German consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Six people died and 100 more were wounded in that attack.

Once the U.S. troop level gets down to 8,400, what happens next remains to be seen as President-elect Donald Trump has sent mixed signals about the war and how to fight it.

The Department of Defense does not break down troop levels by service, Stump said, citing security concerns.

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