News

    US Officials: No Swift Exit from Afghanistan

    U.S. officials are stressing an eventual drawdown of American troops will be done gradually and in a manner that allows Afghan forces to assume security responsibilities

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Michael Bowman

    Days after President Barack Obama unveiled a new U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan, U.S. officials are stressing an eventual drawdown of American troops will be done gradually and in a manner that allows Afghan forces to assume security responsibilities.  

    President Obama's plan for Afghanistan calls for the rapid deployment of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops and specifies July, 2011 as the starting point for reducing U.S. combat forces.  

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed the withdrawal date on ABC's "This Week" program.

    "I do not consider this an exit strategy, and I try to avoid using that term.  This is a transition that is going to take place, and it is not an arbitrary date," Gates said.

    Gates said the transition to Afghan control of security operations will begin in the country's more stable regions, and will be done gradually and as local conditions allow.  In the interim, the Obama plan calls for training Afghan security forces on an accelerated schedule.

    But many Republican lawmakers, such as Arizona Senator John McCain, oppose any target date for drawing down American troops.  

    "When conditions on the ground have decisively begun to change for the better, that is when our troops should start to return home with honor," McCain said. "Not one minute longer, not one minute sooner, and certainly not on some arbitrary date in July, 2011."

    But the head of U.S. Central Command of the armed forces, General David Petraeus, disputes any characterization of the July, 2011 date as a predetermined launch of a swift U.S. retreat from Afghanistan.  Petraeus, who engineered the 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq, spoke on "Fox News Sunday."

    "This [date] does not trigger a rush to the exits," Petraeus said. "It triggers a beginning of a transition to Afghan security forces, and over time a beginning of transition of tasks to Afghan governmental elements, as well."

    In his speech to the nation last Tuesday, President Obama stated that U.S. commitment to the eight-year Afghan conflict cannot be open-ended, and that President Hamid Karzai must take steps to crack down on corruption and improve governance in his country.

    While urging reform in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say the future of America's mission in the country will not be dictated by what Afghan officials accomplish or fail to do.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also appeared on "This Week".

    "I cannot predict everything that is going to happen with President Karzai, but I think it is important to stress that this decision was based on what we believe is best for the United States," Clinton said. "And we have to have a realistic view of who we are working with in Afghanistan."

    Congressional opposition to President Obama's Afghan war plan appears stronger among left-leaning members of his own Democratic Party than opposition Republicans.  

    Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was noncommittal when asked if he would back the plan on "Fox News Sunday".

    "I am skeptical as to whether 30,000 more troops will make a difference [in Afghanistan]," Durbin said. "But I would like to believe by July, 2011 that we will be in a position where we are going to see our troops really coming home."

    President Obama says the goal in Afghanistan remains unchanged from eight years ago: to disrupt and dismantle terrorist groups and defeat violent extremists.  Asked whether the United States knows the current hiding place of al-Qaida kingpin Osama bin Laden, Defense Secretary Gates said, "If we did, we would go get him."  

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora