The the 33,000 U.S. surge troops sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban two years ago are finally returning home, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday. Panetta called the re-deployment of surge troops a “very important milestone” and insisted the U.S. is on track to accomplish its goals in Afghanistan. Though the withdrawal of surge troops was complete on schedule, 68,000 U.S. troops and nearly 100,000 NATO troops still remain in the country. While Panetta underscored the “enormous blows against al Qaeda’s leadership” in Afghanistan, he also said that we remain “a nation at war” in a nod to recent attacks in the country. The U.S. has vowed to turn over security to Afghan forces by 2014.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Jose Cabezas, AFP / Getty Images