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


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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs