By JR on Thursday, June 23, 2011
Vietnam was lost in Washington DC. Looks the same for Afghanistan. In Vietnam's case they talked about handing over to local forces too
US President Barack Obama used a prime-time address to the nation from the White House today to confirm the withdrawal of about 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year. Mr Obama said a further 23,000 troops would be brought back to America by mid-2012 - ending the US military "surge" in the war-torn nation.
"After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support," he said. "By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
"We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al-Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11."
The US currently has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, so even after all of the surge troops leave, the military will still have nearly 70,000 forces in the country.
Responding to Mr Obama's address, House Speaker John Boehner said he was pleased the president recognised that success in Afghanistan was paramount.
However, he cautioned, "It is my hope that the president will continue to listen to our commanders on the ground as we move forward. Congress will hold the administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we've made thus far".
General David Petraeus and top Pentagon officials had asked for a slower drawdown through the (northern) summer of 2012 to allow them to solidify gains in southern Afghanistan and to mount counter-insurgency operations in eastern districts.
Senator John McCain said Mr Obama's decision, communicated to senior national security officials yesterday represented an "unnecessary risk" and said Gen Petraeus and Defence Secretary Robert Gates had recommended a "more modest withdrawal".