Confusion over Obama's claim that the war is over reflects what Afghans perceive as America's changing goals in the war, which has claimed the lives of 2,045 U.S. military personnel.
It invaded after the Sept. 11 attacks to get rid of al-Qaida and the Taliban — which it did with the support of many Afghans. But in the following years when attention and military might was redirected to Iraq, the Taliban came back.
In late 2009, Obama sent tens of thousands of reinforcements to deal with the resurgence. By mid-2010, the United States had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. At the time, the U.S. was also spending billions of dollars on a costly counterinsurgency strategy that had all the hallmarks of nation-building.
In some of the country's eastern provinces, where coalition forces have been fighting a resurgent Taliban with mixed success, Afghans expressed concern.
Aziza Maisam, a member of the provincial council in Ghazni province, said she feared for women if the repressive Taliban should make a comeback.
"The situation is bad and insecure in Ghazni province. It is a premature decision by Obama to withdraw the troops," she said. "The fighting is not over as President Obama said."
Associated Press writers Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report. Follow Patrick Quinn on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PatrickAQuinn