The last of the extra 33,000 troops that the US sent into Afghanistan two years ago has now been withdrawn, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday, dpa reported.
"The United States military has completed drawing down the surge forces President Obama committed in December of 2009, reducing our presence by 33,000 troops on schedule," he said in New Zealand as he made a tour of the Asia-Pacific region to shore up alliances.
The surge had accomplished a reversal of the Taliban's momentum on the battlefield and dramatically increased the size and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, he said in a statement.
"This growth has allowed us and our ISAF Coalition partners to begin the process of transition to Afghan security lead, which will soon extend across every province and more than 75 percent of the Afghan population."
The US military surge had also "struck enormous blows against al Qaeda's leadership, consistent with our core goal of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and denying it a safe-haven."
Roughly 68,000 US personnel remained in Afghanistan, he said.