a transition this year toward taking more of an advisory role as Afghanistan’s national army and police take
greater responsibility for fighting the insurgency. But Panetta’s remarks were the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular U.S. and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year.
“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,” he told reporters traveling with him to Brussels, where he is scheduled to attend NATO meetings this week. Washington Post