After nearly ten years of military involvement and war, President Obama is outlining his plan to draw down American troops in Afghanistan. In a nationally televised White House address last night, The President announced he will bring home the 33,000 “surge” troops he sent to Afghanistan early last year. Under the plan, 10,000 troops will withdraw by the end of the year. The other 23,000 troops will leave by September of next year.
Calling the “surge” one of the most difficult decisions he has made, the President insisted that there is progress in Afghanistan. He said, “We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and special forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11.”
President Obama also addressed domestic concerns, saying the drawdown will allow the United States to re-focus its attention and resources. He said “it is time to focus on nation building here at home.” The “surge” troops leaving Afghanistan account for about a third of the troops in Afghanistan now. After this group leaves, an estimated 70,000 U.S. troops would remain on the ground. The President says the drawdown will continue at a steady pace until the United States can hand over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. Although, it’s still unclear when all American troops will be able to leave the country.