Despite campaigning on ending wars, Obama sent tens of thousands of troops to Afghanistan in 2009. At the time, however, he ensured that military members would begin returning to America in July 2011. With 100,000 US troops there now, today’s announcement will start to explain how many soldiers will return home and at what time.
The president has reportedly been given a range of options from General David Petraeus, the top military commander in Afghanistan. Copies of Obama’s speech began circulation on Tuesday afternoon, however, the president had yet to fill in blank spaces that, come later today, will detail the number of troops returning to the States.
The speech is believed to outline a plan for the removal of up to 30,000 “surge” troops that Obama ordered to Afghanistan in late 2009. Even if all of those troops were to be removed immediately, that would still leave around 70,000 fighters in the country. Though the president isn’t expected to account for that tally on Wednesday’s address, the US and its allies have a target date of December 31, 2014 for ending the war.
RT blogger and military analyst Jake Diliberto thinks that Americans should expect a withdrawal of around 5,000 troops this summer, with 33,000 finally heading back by the end of September 2012.
“That’s what he will announce verbatim,” claims Diliberto, citing an anonymous White House source.
Since the US entered Afghanistan in 2001, 1,522 US military members have died. With more and more Americans voicing anti-war sentiments, is tonight’s announcement a military decision or a something else?
“This statement tonight is a political move to win his reelection,” says Diliberto. He argues that even a withdrawal in the tens of thousands won’t do much, and that the US needs to stop “babysitting” the Afghans if they want to help them out.
“The problem that Afghanistan faces is not something that America can fix,” says Diliberto. “It’s something that only Afghans can fix and they have to want it more than anyone else.”
Afghan-American blogger Arzo Wardak agrees. She tells RT, “the truth of the matter is we have to eventually,” and now, she says, Afghan forces are finally getting stronger.
Diliberto feels similarly. He says, “We need less troops so the Afghans can begin to take control of their own country.”