Panetta: Awaiting plans to draw down surge

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By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday he was awaiting plans from Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, to bring home the remaining 23,000 troops sent to Afghanistan during the 2009 surge.

Panetta, speaking to reporters on the plane traveling to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, said that despite recent setbacks, including the burning of Qurans by U.S. soldiers and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier, the drawdown was on schedule to finish by 2014.

"What I am awaiting are General Allen's plans with regards to taking down the remaining 23,000 from the surge," Panetta said. "And, we'll review those plans."

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the analysis on drawdown scenarios isn't yet complete.

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Associated Press reporter Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Bishkek.

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