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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More