The new American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, said on Monday that there will be “no rush for the exits” as the U.S. begins the first stages of troop withdrawals.
Speaking during his swearing-in ceremony at the American Embassy in Kabul, Crocker said the U.S. will “proceed carefully” in President Obama’s plan to withdraw 10,000 American troops by the end of the year.
"There will be no rush for the exits. The way we do this in the months ahead will have consequences far beyond Afghanistan and far in the future,” Crocker told the hundreds of embassy employees, diplomats, and military leaders attending the ceremony, according to the Associated Press.
Crocker, a 37-year veteran of some of the most difficult diplomatic foreign service postings -- was tapped to replace Karl Eikenberry, who left Afghanistan earlier this month. Crocker served as ambassador to Islamabad, Damascus, and, most famously, to Baghdad. In Iraq, Crocker teamed up with Gen. David Petraeus during the 2007 troop surge that helped turn around the war.
In Afghanistan, Crocker will oversee the civilian side of the U.S.-led war effort as American troops begin to draw down. Under the current plan, the 33,000 surge troops are set to leave the country by September 2012, ahead of a formal end to the combat mission in 2014.
"The coming year will be critical in setting the right glide path," Crocker said.