In a prime time address to the nation from the White House, President Barack Obama said he would order 33,000 U.S. troops home from the country by September 2012.
At least 10,000 of those troops will be back on U.S. soil by the end of this year, Obama said, leaving unchanged his ultimate goal of removing all U.S. troops, and fully transitioning the country to Afghan rule, by 2014.
Tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding,” Obama said. “And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.”
Obama’s decision comes amid declining public support for the war, following the killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this year. 50-six per cent of Americans now want troops to return home as soon as possible, according to a Pew Survey released yesterday.
recognising building resentment over the slow pace of economic recovery, Obama declared “America, It is time to focus on nation building here at home.”
Beating back critics arguing he was was bowing to political pressure to bring troops home before conditions on the ground warranted it, Obama declared he was making his decision “from a position of strength.””Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of Al Qaeda’s leadership,” Obama said.
The White House dismissed reports that the President disregarded the advice of his Afghanistan commander General David Petraeus, who is leaving Afghanistan next month to take over the as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“The President’s decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him [by Petraeus] and has the full support of his national security team,” a senior administration official said in a briefing for reporters. “It is certainly the view of the people who have been prosecuting this effort from the administration that this is not going to increase the [terrorist] threat.”
After the draw-down is complete in September 2012, more than 70,000 U.S. troops will remain in the country.
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