President Barack Obama says the United States is finishing the job it started in Afghanistan.
The president says he will seek to bring the U.S. force in Afghanistan down to 9,800 as the American combat mission ends later this year. He then intends to withdraw most those forces by the end of 2016.
Obama said from the Rose Garden on Tuesday, "This is the year we will conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan."
Obama said U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected.
He said the forces have struck significant blows against al-Qaeda's leadership, eliminated Osama bin Laden and prevented Afghanistan from being used as a base against the U.S.
The President traveled to Afghanistan over the weekend to visit U.S. troops.
More than 30,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war.
Obama's plan depends on Afghanistan signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a security forces agreement that would keep American troops in his country.
Afghanistan will elect a new president next month.
President Obama said returning vets must get the care and benefits they have earned and deserve.
That was a reference to the controversy swirling around the Veterans Affairs Department.
The VA is under the microscope after long wait times may have contributed to the deaths of up to 40 vets in Phoenix.
All VA health clinics are now undergoing a comprehensive review.
Embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has resisted growing calls to resign.
-- The Associated Press
So, what does the President's annoucement mean for California service members? Lieutenant Colonel Peter Cross says only about 200 California guardsmen remain in Afghanistan...
"...and that's winding down with each year passing on, so there's not going to be a tremendous impact other than probably peace of mind with our families that our soldiers won't be deployed again," he said.
Which is good news for a state whose participation in the Middle East has been extraordinarily high.
"The California National Guard was there on day one and will be there at the end of the mission, 14 years later," Lt. Col. Cross emphasized.
A total of 29 Cal Guardsmen have given their lives in the wars that are a product of 911 began.
Three of those were in Afghanistan.