A Polish soldier walks past an Afghan shopkeeper. Poland's defense minister said Warsaw would roughly halve its contingent to 500 soldiers by May. (Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP)
WARSAW — Poland’s defense minister said Wednesday that Warsaw, a major contributor of troops for the US-led war in Afghanistan, would roughly halve its contingent to 500 soldiers by May.
Poland had previously planned to maintain 1,000 troops in Afghanistan until the end of the year as part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
“In agreement with our allies, we have decided to speed up our withdrawal,” Tomasz Siemoniak told reporters.
“All heavy equipment, such as armored vehicles and helicopters, will also return to Poland by May.”
The bulk of NATO’s remaining troops in Afghanistan are due to pull out by the end of 2014.
But the US is currently in talks to secure a long-term security deal with Afghanistan that would see several thousand US troops remain to provide training and assistance after the NATO combat mission ends in December.
The Polish unit, deployed in Afghanistan since 2002, is currently responsible for security in the southeastern province of Ghazni. In November, the unit numbered around 1,100 soldiers.
Forty-three Polish soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2002.