Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/06/2012 -- Following the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, which was completed on December 18 2011, the country is now contemplating the eventual withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan; a process that will begin in mid-2012, and is expected to be completed by 2015.
As the US reduces its footprint in the country, it will hand over an increasing share of the security burden to the Afghan National Army and police force. Despite the end of NATO's involvement in Afghanistan being on the horizon, relations between Washington DC and Kabul continue to be strained, following a string of high profile incidents where Afghan civilians have been murdered, copies of the Qur'an destroyed and Taliban corpses desecrated.
The eventual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is expected to yield significant savings to the Department of Defense budget. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, President Barack Obama has requested US$525.4bn. During the next decade, the Pentagon is expected to make budget savings of up to US$487bn, which will be achieved, in part, by the cessation of military operations in Afghanistan.
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Over the long term, the US will make a major reduction in the size of its strategic nuclear weapons inventory. Currently, around 5,000 operational and reserve nuclear warheads are in the possession of the US armed forces, including around 200 tactical nuclear weapons. The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement between Russia and the US will see the Department of Defense reducing its air-launched and sea-launched nuclear weapons delivery systems.
Although ballistic missile defence efforts proved highly controversial during the administration of President George W. Bush, they have continued, albeit in a different form, under President Obama's administration. The Missile Defence Agency, the branch of the Pentagon supervising ballistic missile defence initiatives, is currently pursuing several programmes aimed at destroying ballistic missiles during their boost, ascent, midcourse and terminal phases of flight.
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