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Afghan violence not likely to change plans for U.S. drawdown of forces

Afghan police keep watch as locals inspect the site of a suicide attack in Jalalabad
An Afghan policeman keeps watch as locals inspect the wreckage of a car at the site of a suicide attack in the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, Feb. 27, 2012. Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

The current violence in Afghanistan, including the death of 4 Americans in the past week, is not likely to slow U.S. plans to continue the steady drawdown of U.S. forces.

"If anything the violence may give impetus to accelerate the transition to putting an Afghan face in charge of security," a senior national security official tells CBS News.

The Obama administration is already working on a plan to methodically draw down American forces after the decade-long war. Currently, there are 90,000 troops in Afghanistan. The plan is to reduce that number to 68,000 by the end of the fighting season this summer. It is expected there will be a further reduction in forces, although a decision on troop levels has not yet been made by President Obama.

"We are already executing a withdrawal plan," said a White House official. "We are talking about when we might shift to more of a support role."

Key decisions about accelerating a transition will be made in May, when world leaders gather for the NATO summit in Chicago. The alliance and Afghan president Hamid Karzai will negotiate a path for handing over full security responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014.

"We would like to end this war as quickly as we can as long as we can meet our objectives," this official said. "The challenge is how do you train [the Afghan forces]; how do you build their capacity and at the same time protect against threats to our troops?"

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