According to the order signed by Rumsfeld, the 4th brigade of the 10th mountain division (light infantry) with HQ in Louisiana, will send only 1,300 servicemen to Afghanistan, instead of 4,000 as previously planned.
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the decision on the reduction of the US contingent and rotation of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the south of Afghanistan had been made to meet the recommendations of the US top command in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The reduction of the US troops strength in Afghanistan has been facilitated by NATO having agreed to take over control of the US responsibility zone in southern Afghanistan next year.
NATO has proposed to increase its contingent of international security assistance force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 9,000 to 15,000 servicemen by the beginning of 2006. Also, the number of military bases would go up, including the restive regions in the south, where numerous insurgents' camps are located.