Obama Announces Plans to Withdraw ‘Surge’ Troops from Afghanistan

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 8:55 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has announced the beginning of the end of the country's 10-year war in Afghanistan, ordering the withdrawal of 33,000 American troops by the end of 2012.

In a White House address Wednesday, President Obama told the American people “the tide of war is receding.” He said the first 10,000 American troops will pull out by the end of this year.

The remaining troops from the surge announced in December of 2009 will come home next year, with U.S. forces continuing their withdrawal at a “steady pace” as Afghan forces take the lead.

There are about 100,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Afghanistan.

President Obama said that by 2014, the process of transition will be complete, with Afghans taking responsibility for their own security.

In his speech, the U.S. leader said al-Qaida is under more pressure than at any time since the September 11 terrorist attacks and is on a “path to defeat.” U.S. special forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2.

In Afghanistan, the president says U.S. forces have inflicted losses on the Taliban and taken a number of the insurgent group's strongholds.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that the war in Afghanistan can not end without some kind of political settlement. He expressed support for Afghan-led reconciliation talks with members of the Taliban who are willing to break from al-Qaida, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution.

The president also said U.S. efforts must address terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan.

Mr. Obama says the United States will work with the Pakistani government to root out the “cancer of violent extremism” and insist that Pakistan keep its commitments.

Mr. Obama said the United States must chart “a more centered course, ” responding to threats with a “targeted force” and not necessarily deploying large armies overseas.

Noting that the United States has spent a trillion dollars on war over the last decade, the president says the country must now invest in its greatest resource — its people — and focus on “nation-building” at home.