Obama: All combat troops home from Afghanistan by 2014 - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

  • President Obama announced last night he would withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by July 2012. Do you think this is the right move?

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    Yes, it’s time we let the Afghan government take over.
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Obama: All combat troops home from Afghanistan by 2014

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President Barack Obama said more than 10,000 troops will be back on U.S. soil by the end of 2011. (Source: RNN) President Barack Obama said more than 10,000 troops will be back on U.S. soil by the end of 2011. (Source: RNN)
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WASHINGTON (RNN) - The first of 33,000 U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July as the United States begins the task of turning over security and withdrawing from a nearly 10-year war, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.

Obama promised the first 10,000 troops will be home by the end of the year, and another 23,000 troops will be back on U.S. soil by July 2012.

"After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead," Obama said. "Our mission will change from combat to support."

The move reverses a surge of 30,000 troops the president ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009.  

"This is the beginning, not the end of our effort to wind down this war," Obama said. "We'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility to the Afghan government."

Under the president's plan, the security handoff will be complete and all combat troops back home by 2014.

"We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace," Obama said.

The president says the U.S. is starting the drawdown from a "position of strength" in part due to the killing of more than half of al-Qaeda's leadership, including the recent death of Osama bin Laden.

He says information gleaned from the terror leader's compound shows that bin Laden expressed concern that al-Qaeda had been ineffective in replacing senior level terrorists that were killed and that they had also failed to portray America "as a nation at war with Islam, thereby draining more widespread support."

Across Washington, the plan received mixed reaction.

Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring at the end of the month, says the decision "provides our commanders with enough resources, time and perhaps most importantly, flexibility to bring the surge to a successful conclusion."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said the withdrawal is not quick enough.

"It has been the hope of many in Congress, and across the country, that the full drawdown would happen sooner than was laid out - we'll continue to press for a better outcome," she posted on her Facebook page. "Gratitude to our men and women in uniform and their families, who have done everything asked of them with courage."

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, said Obama deserves a lot of credit for recent progress in Afghanistan, but the progress remains fragile and could be compromised by a substantial drawdown.

"I am concerned that the withdrawal plan that President Obama announced tonight poses an unnecessary risk to the hard-won gains that our troops have made thus far in Afghanistan and to the decisive progress that must still be made.  This is not the ‘modest' withdrawal that I and others had hoped for and advocated," he said in a statement.

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