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Americans React to President's Plans for Afghanistan

A US soldier returns fire as others run for cover during a firefight with insurgents in the Badula Qulp area, west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, February 14, 2010

President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, beginning next month, is widely seen as a compromise - more than what top military officers advised, yet fewer than many lawmakers in Congress want.

Jon and Dorothy Fersch from Texas understand the importance of the war in Afghanistan. Two grandsons are serving there. They watched President Obama's speech and worry he might be withdrawing troops too soon and too fast.

"We also have to make sure a solid country when we leave, which it doesn't appear to be yet," said Jon Fersch.

Just the opposite opinion from a sampling of other Americans.

"It's been too long that they're over there and now that we found bin Laden, I guess the war should be over," said a woman in Washington.

“It’s not right, it’s just not right," said a woman in New York. "That was one of the platforms. He said he was going to get them out. They’re not out. Ten thousand is not enough. Thirty thousand is not enough. Get them all out.”

“We shouldn’t be in the business of building an empire or nation building. It ruined the Romans and it’s not going to help us,” said a man.

At this point, the reporter typically says reaction on Capitol Hill is along party lines. Except, that is not the case with the Afghanistan pullout.

Typically, reaction on Capitol Hill is along party lines, But that is not the case with the Afghanistan pullout.

Republicans offered some support for the president's plan. "I'm cautiously optimistic about where we're heading and how we're getting there," said House Speaker John Boehner.

While others from the president's own party expresssed some reservations.

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

Strong American opinions - about a war that has been going on for nearly 10 years, with at least 1,500 Americans dead and billions of dollars spent.

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    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy, Silver World Medal, AP Broadcaster’s Best of Show, and Clarion award-winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous TV, Radio, Multimedia, and Digital awards for her TV/Web coverage of Muslim Portraits, The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.  Presutti was VOA’s Nathanson Scholar to the Aspen Institute and VOA’s delegate to the U.S. government’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP).