All week there has been anticipation for President Barack Obama’s announcement on Wednesday. In December of 2009, Obama sent 33,000 soldiers to Afghanistan to help fight off the growing problems in the terrorist ridden state. Ever since, the voice of the American people has gone from demanding that American presence in Iraq decrease to American presence in Afghanistan decrease.
This week President Obama made his official announcement on when the “surge” troops would be coming homing and the overall count of American soldiers in Afghanistan would be coming down by 33,000.
Wednesday, Obama made it official that the withdrawal is going to take at most fifteen months. The deadline for the withdrawal of the over 30,000 American troops is set at September of 2012. Furthermore, Obama said that by January of 2012, ten thousand of those troops would be out of Afghanistan.
One thing that should not be surprising is that the withdrawal is going to be slow. For obvious reasons, it would be unwise to remove 33,000 soldiers from a not completely stable state all at once.
Obama said that sending the extra troops in 2009 was not an easy decision to make. However, Obama made it clear that a year and a half later the progress in Afghanistan is undeniable and that the troop surge has proven to be successful.
Obama went on to tout the recent success in the Middle East. He said, “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.”
The President of the United States then refocused attention on what is going to happen once the presence in Iraq is minimized even more and begins to be scaled back in Afghanistan.
As a result of having less troops and obligations in the Middle East, there will be more money and more time to “refocus attention and resources on efforts to resolve economic and other problems and to unify a politically divided nation. America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home,” said Obama.
With the troop withdrawal set to begin in July of this year and conclude in September of 2012, the total number of American soldiers in Afghanistan will sit at under 70,000 after that deadline.