"What the President has been really clear about is what our strategy in Afghanistan is; that after the end of the year, we are now in a situation where the combat mission in Afghanistan for US military personnel has ended.

"The Afghans are now solely responsible for the security of their country," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

Earnest was responding to questions on the statement made by the new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, in which he said that the United States should consider reexamining its timetable for taking US coalition troops out of Afghanistan.

There is an enduring US military presence and NATO coalition military presence in Afghanistan to carry out two other missions, Earnest said.

"The first is a counterterrorism mission. We continue to see remnants of al Qaeda that do have designs on destabilizing the region and US interests.

"We also continue to see a need for US military personnel to play an important role in training and equipping Afghan security forces to continue to take the fight to those terrorist elements and to preserve the security situation in the country of Afghanistan," he said.

Lauding the US and coalition forces, Earnest said there are a lot of hard-won gains that have been made in Afghanistan as a result of the bravery of US military personnel and our coalition partners.

"Much of that work -- many of those accomplishments are due to the effective coordination between United States military and Afghan security forces, and we want to see that kind of coordination continue, even as Afghans take sole responsibility for their security situation," he said.

The United States, he said, continues to have military personnel in Afghanistan to carry out these two missions.

"The counterterrorism mission and the training mission, the training of Afghan security forces, is indicative of the ongoing commitment that the United States has to the government of Afghanistan; that we built a strong working relationship with the unified government there and the United States and countries around the world who have invested so much in Afghan security continue to be invested in the success, both political and economic, of the Afghan people," he added.

Earlier in the day, the Pentagon reiterated that the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan is on schedule.

"There's simply no adjustment to the milestones. But I think what's most important is that Gen [John] Campbell has flexibility within those milestone to flow forces out at the pace that he sees most appropriate based on conditions on the ground," Pentagon spokesman Army Col Steve Warren said told reporters during an off camera news conference.

Latest News from World News Desk