The Associated Press: Marines to reduce by half in Afghanistan this year WASHINGTON (AP) Marines will lead the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan this year, reducing by about half their numbers in the key province of Helmand as Afghans move fully into the combat lead there, a top U.S. general said Wednesday. Helmand, which has seen some of the fiercest American and allied fighting over the past two years, is transitioning to Afghan control faster than most other Taliban-contested areas of the country. Yet to be seen is whether the Afghans will manage to stand on their own as the Americans thin out. As evidence that Helmand remains dangerous for allied forces, six British soldiers were killed Tuesday when their armored vehicle was hit by an explosion the biggest loss for British forces there since 2006. Maj. Gen. John Toolan, who has commanded the U.S. Marine contingent in Helmand for the past year, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his Camp Leatherneck headquarters in southwestern Afghanistan that the number of Marines is likely to shrink by 8,000-10,000 from the current total of 17,500 by the end of September. That is the target date for the overall U.S. force in Afghanistan to drop to 68,000 from the current 90,000. -------------------------- Can anyone see the British moving north again??