Obama Announces Afghan War Drawdown Plan
10,000 troops to withdraw by end of the year, 33,000 by next summer
- Duration 13:06
- Date Jun 22, 2011
10,000 troops to withdraw by end of the year, 33,000 by next summer
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Nearly ten years ago America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor.
This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network and Afghanistan.
And signaled a new threat to our security.
One in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield.
But innocent men women and children.
Going about their daily lives.
In the days that -- our nation was united as we struck an al-Qaeda and routed the -- bomb in Afghanistan.
And our focus shifted.
A second war was launched in Iraq and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there.
By the time I took office the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year.
But Al qaeda's leaders have escaped in the -- -- there were plotting new attacks.
While the -- one had regrouped and gone on the offensive.
Without a new strategy and decisive action.
Our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al-Qaeda and -- -- taking over large parts of Afghanistan.
For this reason and one of the most difficult decisions that I've made president.
I ordered an additional 30000 American troops in Afghanistan.
When I announce the search at West Point we set clear objectives.
To refocus on all Qaeda.
To reverse the -- -- momentum.
And train Afghan security forces to defend their own country.
I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open ended and that we would begin to draw down our forces this July.
Tonight I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment.
Thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform.
Our civilian personnel and our many coalition partners we are meeting our goals.
As a result starting next month we will be able to remove -- 101000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.
And we will bring home a total of 33000.
Troops by next summer.
Fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point.
After this initial reduction our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace is Afghan security forces move in -- lead.
Our mission will change from combat to support.
Like Tony fourteen this process of transition will be complete and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
We're starting this draw down from position of strength.
Al-Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since nine elevenths.
Together with the pakistanis we have taken out more than half of Al qaeda's leadership.
And thanks -- intelligence professionals and special forces we killed Osama bin Laden the only leader that al-Qaeda had ever know.
This was a victory for old who have served since 9/11.
One soldier summed it up well.
The message she said is we don't forget.
You'll be held accountable no matter how long it takes.
The information that we recovered from bin Laden's compound shows al-Qaeda under enormous strain.
Bin Laden expressed concern that al-Qaeda had been unable to effectively replaced senior terrorists that have been killed.
And that al-Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with -- -- thereby draining more widespread support.
-- Qaeda remains dangerous and we must be vigilant against attacks.
-- we have put al-Qaeda on a path to defeat and we will not relent until the job is not.
In Afghanistan we've inflicted serious losses on the -- and taken a number of its strongholds.
Along with our search our allies also increased their commitments.
Which helped stabilize more the country.
Afghan security forces have grown by over 100000.
And in some provinces and municipalities.
We've already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people.
In the face of violence and intimidation.
Afghans are fighting and dying for their country.
Establishing local police forces.
Opening markets and schools.
Creating new opportunities for women and girls and trying to turn the page on decades of war.
Of course -- challenges remain.
This is the beginning but not -- end of our effort to wind down this war.
We'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made.
What we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.
The next -- in Chicago we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.
We do know that peace cannot come to a land that is known so much war without a political settlement.
So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces.
America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people including -- -- about.
Our position on these talks is clear.
They must be led by the Afghan government.
And those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al-Qaeda.
Abandon violence and abide by the Afghan constitution.
But in part because of our military effort.
We have reason to believe the progress can be made.
The goal that we seek is achievable and can be expressed simply.
No safe haven from which al-Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland or our allies.
We want try to make Afghanistan a perfect place.
We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains and definitely.
That is the responsibility of the Afghan government which must step up its ability to protect its people.
And moved from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace.
What we can do.
And will do is build a partnership with the Afghan people that indoors.
One that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.
Of course our efforts must also address terrorist safe havens in pockets -- No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists.
Which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation.
In securing a more peaceful future.
For this war torn region.
Will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer violent extremists and we will insist that it keeps its commitments.
-- there should be no doubt that so long as I'm president the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who -- to kill us.
They cannot allude us nor -- the justice they deserve.
My fellow Americans this has been a difficult decade for our country.
We've learned a -- the profound cost of war.
The cost that's been paid by the nearly 4500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq.
In the over 15100 who have done so in Afghanistan.
Men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defend.
Thousands more have been wounded.
Some of lost limbs on the battlefield and -- still battle the demons that have fold them home.
-- tonight we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receiving.
Few -- of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way.
We've ended our combat mission in Iraq with a 100000 American troops are ready out of that country.
And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan the light of the secure peace can be seen in the distance.
These long wars will come to a responsible end.
As they do we must learn their lessons.
Already in this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America's engagement around the world.
Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security.
-- embrace and isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face.
Others would have America overextended.
Confronting every evil that can be found brought.
We must chart a more -- course.
For generations before we must embrace America singular role in the course of human events.
But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate.
As strategic as we are resolute.
When threatened we must respond with force the win that force can be targeted.
We need not deploy large armies overseas.
When innocents are being slaughtered and global security in danger.
We don't have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our -- Instead we must rally international action which we're doing in Libya where we do not have a single soldier on the ground.
But are supporting allies and protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their own destiny.
In all -- we do we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power.
It is the principles upon which our union was found.
We're a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law and respecting the rights of all our citizens.
We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others.
We stand not for empire.
But for self determination.
That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab world.
We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals.
With the power of our example.
And -- unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.
We are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored an opportunity for citizens -- home.
Over the last decade we have spent a trillion dollars on war and a time of rising debt -- hard economic times.
Now we must invest in America's greatest resource.
We must unleash innovation the creates new jobs and industries.
While living within -- means.
We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and cleaner sources of energy.
And most of ball after a decade of passionate debate.
We must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war.
For our nation draws strength from our differences and what our union is strong no hill is too steep.
The horizon is beyond our reach.
It is time to focus on nation building here at home.
In this effort we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.
To our troops.
Are veterans and their families.
I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust would -- And provide you with the care and benefits and opportunity that you deserve.
I met some of these patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell.
For a while back I spoke to the 101 airborne that -- fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan.
Into the team that took out Osama -- lot.
Standing in front of a model of bin Laden's compound the navy seal who led that effort paid tribute to those -- been lost.
Brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where troops stand guard overseas.
And on had storms and quite corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten.
This officer Mike so many others I've met on the basis in Baghdad and Maghreb.
And at Walter Reed and Bethesda naval hospital.
Spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one.
Depending on each other and trusting one another.
As a family might do -- -- -- of -- That's a lesson -- memory.
That we are all part of one American travel.
The we have known disagreement and division.
We are bound together by the creed that has written into our founding documents.
And a conviction that the united states of America's a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish.
Now let us finish the work at hand.
But it's responsibly in these wars and reclaim the American dream that is at the center of our story.
With confidence in our cost.
Of faith and our fellow citizens and with hope and our hearts and let us go about the work of extending the promise of America.
For this generation.
And the next.
May god bless our troops.
And may god bless the United States of America.