News / Asia

White House Struggles to Clarify Obama Afghanistan Strategy

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (file photo from Sept. 15, 2011)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (file photo from Sept. 15, 2011)

The White House faced additional questions Thursday on U.S. and NATO discussions about potentially ending combat operations in Afghanistan by the middle of next year as foreign forces transition to an Afghan security lead.

Several times during the news briefing, reporters asked Press Secretary Jay Carney whether there has been any fundamental change in the U.S. and NATO timeline set at a NATO summit in 2010.

NATO vowed to complete the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces and withdraw foreign troops by the end of 2014.  But officials have always stressed that security conditions would determine the pace and scope of the process.

What Carney made clear in responding to a number of pointed questions is that the 2014 target date has not changed, and that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in remarks on Wednesday, was not announcing any new decision.

In his remarks to reporters accompanying him to Brussels, Panetta said the U.S. would like to complete a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role "hopefully" by "mid- to the latter part of 2013."

Carney sought to keep the focus on President Obama's main objective -- disrupting, dismantling and ultimately defeating al-Qaida.  He responded this way when asked to clarify how long U.S. troops could be playing a combat role.

"Well potentially, until that time when full security lead, is actually the phrase that we use here, until that transfer takes place, which as designated by NATO in Lisbon will be accomplished by the end of 2014," Carney said.

President Obama's spokesman was asked if the transfer of security responsibilities precluded combat participation by U.S. forces.  No, he said, and drew a link to Iraq, where the U.S. handed over to Iraqi forces but still had highly-capable forces in country that could assist in combat missions.  

On how quickly U.S. forces would be withdrawing after September, when U.S. troop levels are expected to be about 68,000, Carney said that remains to be determined by NATO after assessing how successful the transition to an Afghan security lead has been.

After Secretary Panetta's remarks on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued his sharp criticism of Mr. Obama, focusing on the Panetta remarks.

"The Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it. Why in the world do you go to the people that you’re fighting with and tell them the day that you’re pulling out your troops? It makes absolutely no sense. His naivete is putting in jeopardy the mission of the United States of America and our commitments to freedom," Romney said.

Asked about this, Jay Carney said he would not address specific criticisms, but then said some critics of the president's strategy supported an Afghanistan policy under the George W. Bush administration that lacked clarity.

President Obama, he said, has a very clear, focused, achievable policy, adding Mr. Obama does not support "war without end."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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