The French contingent of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) conducted the handing over ceremony today, in the town of Mahmood-e-Raqi. Senior military and government officials from Afghanistan, as well as the members of the French armed forces participated in the ceremony. Kapisa is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, and the French contingent of the ISAF was looking after the security of the province ever since the Taliban regime was overthrown in 2001.
More than 4,000 servicemen from the French armed forces are currently deployed in Afghanistan, with the vast majority of them in the Kapisa province. The French president plans to reduce this number to somewhere around 1,500 by the end of 2012. The government plans to withdraw all the combat troops, but plans to station more than a thousand military trainers in Kapisa and other parts of Afghanistan even after the troop withdrawal. These military trainers will train the 300,000 strong Afghan national army and members of the local police force.
A total of 86 French servicemen have lost their lives in Afghanistan ever since the country started participating in the ISAF, with 24 of the deaths occurring last year. The security situation in Afghanistan has worsened during the last few years. Although a total of 130,000 ISAF troops are deployed around the nation, the past year has witnessed violence from the volatile Southern and Eastern regions spreading to the relatively stable Central and the Northern regions.