News / USA

Obama Visits Troops After Announcing Afghanistan Drawdown

President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y, many of whom have just returned from Afghanistan, June 23, 2011
President Barack Obama speaks to soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y, many of whom have just returned from Afghanistan, June 23, 2011

Multimedia

A day after announcing the beginning of a U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama on Thursday visited soldiers and their families at Fort Drum, New York, home to one of the most frequently deployed units in the U.S. military.


Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division, which is has seen several deployments in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq, where U.S. forces have formally ended their combat role.  Members of the division have been among some of the most recent military deaths in combat operations in Afghanistan.

In 2009, President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military's highest decoration for valor, to U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, a member of the Mountain Division, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Under President Obama's phased withdrawal plan, 10,000 soldiers will leave Afghanistan by the end of this year.   At what he calls "a steady pace," another 23,000 will leave by September of next year.

At Fort Drum, the president told soldiers they have always been in the "toughest fights" and that it is their commitment that made possible the progress seen in Afghanistan.

"The only reason I was able to make that decision was because I knew we had the finest fighting force in the world, and that if I gave a command to our troops, they would be able to accomplish that mission," said President Obama.

Referring to his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said U.S. forces will be drawn down steadily, not precipitously, to ensure that gains will be sustained.

He said it was the work of the U.S. military that made possible the operation against terrorist leader Osama bin-Laden in Pakistan.

"It is also because of you that we had the platform to be able to go after bin Laden and al-Qaida," said Obama. "And we have decimated their ranks."

In an interview with VOA on Wednesday, President Obama discussed the withdrawals, progress made against the Taliban and the path forward to turning security responsibilities over to Afghan government forces.

"We’ll continue to transition as Afghan forces stand up, with the goal of completing this transition by 2014," said President Obama. "Beyond 2014, though, we want to make sure that we maintain the strong relationship with the Afghan people and the Afghan government.  We won’t have the same military presence, but what we hope on economic and development agendas that we’re going to continue to work with Afghans as we have."

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, lawmakers questioned outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman U.S. Navy Admiral Michael Mullen about President Obama's withdrawal plan.

Mullen responded to a question about the 2014 target date for the United States and NATO to transfer all security responsibilities in the country to Afghan forces.

"As much advise and assist as is necessary by that point, but what we have watched in terms of both the growth rate and learning rate, they are on a pretty good glide slope right now in terms of ascendance to be able to do this - the Afghan security forces," said Admiral Mullen.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner urged the president to retain flexibility to alter the withdrawal plan based on conditions on the ground.

Boehner and the Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill.

Boehner: "I am generally supportive of the plan because there is enough flexibility in the withdrawal to take into consideration conditions on the ground."

Pelosi: "Many of us would like to see this go faster than the path that was laid out, however it may."

Some of the sharpest critics of the war in Afghanistan took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, calling the withdrawal plan insufficient.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid