News / Asia

Obama to Speak on Accomplishments, Challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan

President Barack Obama speaks to the troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, 03 Dec 2010
President Barack Obama speaks to the troops at a rally during an unannounced visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, 03 Dec 2010

President Obama will speak on Thursday about the status of U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan.  Remarks by Mr. Obama and U.S. officials will mark the completion of a government-wide assessment of accomplishments and challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and steps to thwart al-Qaida and extremists advances.  

The much anticipated report by the president's national security team encompasses the views of multiple U.S. government agencies and the military about the situation in Afghanistan.

Previewing the president's remarks, the White House said there will be no major surprises and that in reality, what was originally described in media reports as a major review will in fact be just the latest in a series assessments of conditions on the ground.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs played down comparisons between Thursday's remarks, and Mr. Obama's speech one year ago at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  

In that address, Mr. Obama announced a surge of 30,000 additional troops aimed at stepping up pressure on Taliban forces in key areas of Afghanistan.  Those forces enabled a new U.S. and NATO commander, General David Petraeus to implement his strategies.  

Gibbs said the president will report progress in slowing the momentum of Taliban forces, and success in counter-terrorism efforts aimed at de-grading the senior leadership of al-Qaida.  Gibbs summarized Mr. Obama's overall focus.

"The president set out a series of goals in his West Point speech," said Gibbs. "Are we making progress with this strategy in meeting those goals?  What is working, what has to be refined, what progress have we made, what challenges persist and how do we address those challenges?"

President Obama's remarks follow the final scheduled meeting of the year of his special national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are also expected to brief reporters at the White House.

But Mr. Obama and his team now face a void left by the man who led them, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died this week of complications from heart surgery.

As Mr. Obama and other NATO leaders made clear at their summit in Lisbon, they are determined that a transition of responsibilities to Afghan security forces be based on conditions on the ground, and be completed by 2014.

Nothing in the new national security report on Afghanistan, says White House spokesman Gibbs, will place in question the beginning of a U.S. troop drawdown scheduled to begin in July of next year.

The president's spokesman provided a glimpse of one issue Mr. Obama is likely to focus on in his remarks, namely Pakistan's commitment to dealing with extremists within its borders that are making the job in Afghanistan more difficult.

Gibbs said the views of Richard Holbrooke regarding Pakistan, which the U.S. generally describes as having become more willing to cooperate, were represented during this week's AF-PAK meeting.  But he says the review makes clear that improvement is needed.

"We are certainly clear with our partners in Pakistan on this, and I think it will be clear again in the document, that as we have seen greater cooperation, challenges remain," he said.

The president also faces some intense skepticism about his Afghanistan strategy in Congress, where it will be up to lawmakers to approve funding in coming years.  Of particular concern, aside from the ongoing cost to Americans, is the question of corruption in the Afghan government.

Though the president has stuck with is pledge to begin a U.S. drawdown in July, Democratic  Senator Barbara Boxer used a speech on the floor of the Senate this week to voice concern about any delay.

"I support beginning to bring the troops home in 2011," she said. "There is some talk that it might be extended to another year.  I don't support that."

There will be two versions of the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review, one for public consumption, the other classified.

It's certain there will be hearings on Capitol Hill in the new year on the president's strategy in House and Senate committees.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs