News / USA

Obama Details Afghan Troop Drawdown in State of Union Speech

President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress, Feb. 12, 2013
Kent Klein
U.S. President Barack Obama says about one-half of American forces still in Afghanistan will leave the country by this time next year.  The president made the announcement during his annual State of the Union address, which focused largely on the U.S. economy.
 
The president said 34,000 troops will come home from Afghanistan over the next year. That would put the United States on pace to have all its combat forces out by the end of 2014, as planned.
 
“This drawdown will continue.  And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over,” he said.

Related video report by Carolyn Presutti
 
US President Talks Afghanistan, Economy in State of the Unioni
X
February 14, 2013 7:20 PM
With more than one-third of Americans telling pollsters they want the president to focus on the economy, President Barack Obama did just that in his State of the Union Address in Washington Tuesday night. In setting his agenda for the coming year, the president also called for reforms of America's gun laws and declared America's involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan nearly ended. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti reports on the speech and reaction from the opposition party.

The president called for ongoing U.S. training of Afghan forces, and continued counterterrorism efforts worldwide, including a legal framework to guide those operations.
 
In his fifth annual address to Congress, and the first of his second term, Obama laid out his agenda for the coming year.
 
After his inaugural address last month emphasized social issues, the president used his State of the Union speech to refocus attention on his plan to boost the U.S. economy.
 
He called on both parties in Congress to support his proposals to help the middle class, create jobs and reduce the deficit.
 
“Nothing I am proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.  It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth,” he said.
 
In the Republican Party response, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said Obama’s economic plan depends too heavily on government spending.
 
“And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more,” he said.
 
Those polled in a recent Pew Research Center public opinion survey listed the economy, jobs and the budget deficit as their top concerns.
 
On foreign policy, the president issued a warning to North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test early Tuesday. 
 
“Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats,” Obama said.
 
Obama also said the U.S. and its allies will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
 
On Syria, the president pledged to keep the pressure up on the government there, but did not commit to military force.
 
He also announced that he will visit the Middle East in March, and promised continued support for Israel’s security and peace in the region.
 
On a key domestic issue, Obama asked lawmakers to speed passage of legislation to update U.S. immigration policy.
 
“As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts.  Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away, and America will be better for it.  Let’s get it done,” he said.
 
Senator Rubio agreed on the need for immigration reform, but he called for stricter enforcement of existing laws.
 
“We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally.  But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past, to secure our borders and enforce our laws,” Rubio said.
 
The president also appealed for passage of his gun control initiatives.  He said that more than 1,000 people have died from guns in America since the killing of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.
 
He talked about one victim, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago named Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down days after marching in his inaugural parade.
 
“Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration.  And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house,” Obama said.
 
Hadiya’s parents were among the shooting victims’ families who attended the speech.
 
Obama will make separate trips to North Carolina, Georgia and Illinois this week to seek support for his agenda.
 
The annual address comes from a requirement in the U.S. Constitution that the president report to Congress “from time to time” on the state of the union.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
February 13, 2013 6:43 AM
everything has an end..but if karzai continues insisting that things have been worst due to the coming of NATO forces and failing to undestand the huge benefit that NATO has in afghanistan,troops could even return tomorrow...karzai had always been assured that NATO is not out to stay in afghanistan for life even though there be no taliban attacks.


by: Torialay Razaqyar from: Tampa Florida
February 12, 2013 11:20 PM
wow ! what a great speech.
keep your promises and go forward Mr. President.
help and protect democracy , human rights , civil rights , free dome and justice in America and all over the world.
great leaders makes the history, they don't hide from the history.
regards

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid