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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid