President Obama says plans to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan next year haven't changed. In a letter to Congress attached to his semi-annual report on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama said progress in the country would allow the surge announced in December 2009 to come home.

NATO reports that violence in Afghanistan is on a slight downward trend. In the first eight months of 2011, attacks dropped 2 percent compared with a year earlier. Still, in June, some military commanders urged the president to keep troop numbers high in the 10-year-old war because recent gains are fragile.

Text of Obama's letter:

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE
HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP, AND THE CHAIRMEN AND
RANKING MEMBERS OF HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES
 
September 30, 2011
 
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
(Dear Mr. Leader:) (Dear Madam Leader:)
(Dear Mr. Chairman) (Dear Madam Chairman:)
(Dear Senator:) (Dear Representative:)
 
In response to section 1117 of the Supplemental Appropriations
Act, 2009 (Public Law 111-32) (the "Act"), and in order to keep
the Congress fully informed, I am providing the attached report
related to Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the fourth report
submitted under section 1117 of the Act and follows the April
2011 submission.
 
This report covers the period from January 1, 2011, through
June 30, 2011. To the extent possible, the report also provides
an assessment through August 31, 2011. Events continue to evolve
since that time, for example in our relationship with Pakistan,
but these developments fall outside the scope of this report.
As I noted in my remarks on the way forward in Afghanistan on
June 22, we have seen great progress in our fight against
al-Qa'ida; we have reversed the Taliban's momentum in
Afghanistan; and we continue to see progress in training the
Afghan National Security Forces. This will allow us in the
coming year to fully recover the 33,000 U.S. troop surge
I announced at West Point in December 2009. Beyond that change,
we continue to implement the strategy and do not believe further
modifications or adjustments to the metrics, resources, or
authorities are required at this time. Huge challenges remain,
and this is the beginning -- but not the end -- of our effort
to wind down this war.
 
As the Congress continues its deliberations on the way ahead in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, I want to continue to underscore our
Nation's interests in the successful implementation of this
policy.
 
Sincerely,
 
BARACK OBAMA