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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid