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December 2nd, 2009
05:55 AM ET

Obama outlines Afghan troop buildup, withdrawal plan

West Point, New York (CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday that although the Afghanistan war is not lost, "it has moved backwards" for several years.

Obama outlined his strategy for the war in Afghanistan to an audience at the U.S. Military Academy, one that he says will bring the war "to a successful conclusion."

"There is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum," Obama said. "Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border.

"And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan Security Forces and better secure the population. ... In short, the status quo is not sustainable."

Obama announced he is deploying 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan "at the fastest pace possible" with a goal of starting to withdraw forces from the country in July 2011. Read more

Transcript | Key points | Troop #s | Full speech Video

What's your take? Sound off below

Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Al Palmer

    You haven't been able to train the Afgans in the 9 years you been there, and now you think you are going to do it in18 months. You are totally wrong. bring the military people home start saving lives, and money.them arabs over there are going to kill off their own people no matter what we do

    December 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  2. Joe, Texas

    I found it particularly ironic that Barack Hussein Obama would select West Point as the venue for delivering this speech. West Point's motto is "Duty, Honor, Country" - all concepts that are completely foreign to Obama. The Code of Honor of the Corps of Cadets is "We do not lie, cheat, or steal." - again, character traits that Obama has exhibited in abundance.

    As for his "decision," I don't believe there was any decision. It was, in all likelihood, the minimum action he could take to avoid an American version of a military coup d'état. The fact that it now has him in trouble with his left wing supporters may be what saves this country. The few intelligent members of Congress need to get their heads together and decide that this inept, incompetent buffoon needs to be thrown out of office to send a message to the American electorate that the Presidency of the United States is not a position to be handed over to someone whose only qualification is to be able to read eloquently from a teleprompter.

    December 3, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  3. eliz wolfgang

    re: voluntary..should be "volunteer, volunteered, respectively..."

    December 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  4. eliz wolfgang

    We are such disloyal Americans. We wanted Obama and you want even back him up (Congress and some of the Citizens). This isn't a Perfect World. We have to all Unite and get the job done. Everything that comes out of the Congress is how much is it going to cost me? We have to pay the cost to be the boss. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. This Administration is just cleaning up behind the doings of Bush and Darth Vader (Cheney). Basically, all of this happened on their Watch. We need to move on. If sending more troops is going to help, then send them. And that includes my Son.

    Americans, when you pick up an M16 to help the soldiers that are there, you can voice any opinion you want; if you cannot back up the Solders that are there, you need to just shut up and let them Protect your sorry A$$es. That is their main function. Remember this is a voluntary Army.

    What have you voluntary lately for?

    December 2, 2009 at 9:59 am |
  5. Linda Rucker

    The President's speech on the Afganistan was outstanding. I have a question what role can the airforce play in this war by targeting and boming their safe havens and training camps?

    December 2, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  6. Andi

    TheTaliban have an obvious agenda and thats to eventually rule the world using radical islam and kill all who refuse to be oppressed,especially women and girls.During WW2 America fought to stop the Nazis agenda for many of the same reasons we are fighting in the middle east today,to help eliminate tyranny that will devastate the world as we now know it.And though i may not agree with Obama to stay and fight,i have to agree that leaving is not the answer either.I do believe though that we here need to help ourselves and clean up our nation and build stability here,we can not afford radical islam to grow and prosper on our own soil...the American people need to wake up,freedom and justice for all starts at home.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  7. Joe, Texas

    While I am glad to see that Obama listened to the military experts, the timetable for withdrawal just tells Al Queda and the Taliban to lay low for 18 months and it's all yours again. It also tells anyone there that works with our troops that they will probably be beheaded when the Taliban comes back. And it tells the corrupt officials in the Karzai administration that they have 18 months to steal all they can and get out of the country.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  8. Joan

    You finally have a President who actually listens to all of his advisors, thinks things through carefully and then makes an informed decision. I was impressed when Fareed Zakaria last night stated that Pres. Obama knows the details and names of all of the areas in Afghanistan better than most journalists who have lived there for some time. He did his homework. Why don't you all take a deep breath and let this strategy play out? It certainly can't be any worse than the last administration's plan which was to ignore it and focus on another illegal war. He did not say that he was ending the war in eighteen months. He only said they would begin to bring some troops home in eighteen months and that will of course depend on the situation on the ground. He is putting the government of Afghanistan on notice that they need to end the corruption, use the aid money properly and take control of their country. Sounds like a good plan to me. If he had not sent more troops he would be criticized for being too weak. Now he is sending troops and he is still being criticized. Perhaps the critics should run for President in 2012 since they seem to think they can do a better job. Let's see how they would do.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  9. ken, nj

    Great speech wrong policy. The taliban did not attack us, al queda is in pakistan and 26 other countries. We trained soldiers in world war I and II in 6 weeks and won both wars, so why haven't the afghan soldiers been trained after 8 years. We can't even protect Fort Hood we can't protect policeman ,women and children in the u.s. but we want to protect afghanistan. Another trillion dollars and thousands of dead and wounded won't make us safer in the u.s. It is time to move on just like we had to do after, world war I, II Korea, and Vietnam. When will enough killing be enough for 9/11. Why not stop now instead of 2011, what's the difference.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:44 am |
  10. Ron J

    Those cadets didn't look to happy about this announcment. And there's no money for this either. He just trotted out the same old script
    from the past. No changes from endless war.

    Mr Obama, Tear Down This Wall of Fire and Lies !

    December 2, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  11. Judy Rodriguez

    I just want to add that I think it is a pleasure that this administration took the time to study the situation and make an educated announcement regarding this troop build up as opposed to the decisions made in the previous administration which always felt like they were shooting from the hip! That is one of the reasons I voted for Obama hoping that his strong education would translate to educated decision making! As I keep hearing, the taliban has all the time in the world so making an informed, educated decision over a period of time won't hurt anything. Also, when the government gives a time line, it is a flexible time frame in this type of situation depending on current circumstances, so to be putting so much emphasis on the designated time frame seems ridiculous. And regarding complaints that the speech was too general, Obama is not about to give so many details in a public speech that the taliban will obtain information so much more helpful than they obtain in other ways.

    December 2, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  12. Sharon,Daniel Island

    i wonder were the new military personnel is coming from. the troops we have are already extended. is this leading to a temp mandantory military service?

    December 2, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  13. mario

    i think he is on the right track I am a progressive democrat and i served in afghanistan.

    December 2, 2009 at 7:38 am |
  14. Jordan McGowen

    Outstanding plan. Military victory must not be our only measure of success in this battle. Nation building behind the shield of NATO is our best course. At first I was skeptical of the time table, but after considering it, I believe that this time table is a wakeup call to the rest of the free world that they will have to be prepared to step up to the plate in 18 months. The root cause of this whole deal impacts the entire free world, not just the United States and it is time that the US started to share the load.

    December 2, 2009 at 7:28 am |
  15. Timmy

    Well Obama has told the enemy that we are gong to withdraw in 18 months, so they will sit back and wait till we are gone! Who`s going to pay for this? The middle class tax payer thats who! Obama has done nothing he promised during his campaign but for the far left and now he`s turning traitor with them now! 2012 cant get here soon enough, its one thing to be an intelligient speaker but thats only a cover for his lies!

    December 2, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  16. Robin Bourne

    Pakistan is stepping up efforts finally, so now is perfect for an increase in troops, and the Taliban can be hit from all sides. Anybody who thinks things should stay the same, or we should get out, forgets history. We are Americans and we dont quit, nor can we forget 9/11. For us to do as the Soviet Union did would be embarrassing. There are no other choices. We either finish what was half started, or humiliate ourselves as did the Soviets. Bush has avenged Poppy, and Cheney has probably become the richest man in the world. The personal aspirations of our former president have been achieved, so now lets do the job that should have been done already. Let's fight the real enemy this time.

    December 2, 2009 at 6:59 am |
  17. Jacqueline Butler

    I appreciate that Pres. Obama took time to make his decision rather than bending to political pressures from either side of the aisle. We don't live in a perfect world. He's the first to know that. We have enemies with clear focus on their mission. We must be as clear with ours. I didn't vote for Obama but I'm proud to have him as my president.

    December 2, 2009 at 6:56 am |
  18. Diane

    I liked the speech and believe he is sincere. I was okay with taking a long time to make the decision and I support (sadly) the decision to send more troops. I believe it will take this traumatized country a long time to stand on its own and I don't think we can just leave. I think we'll do best by protecting the people and improving education, especially for girls. I hope our troops conduct themselves well among the people, for we must help them to see what we really are, so the crazy rhetoric will not ring true to them. I think the most powerful thing we can do is to provide more safety and more hope. Think of how traumatized we were after 9-11. These people have known little else but trauma in their lives. I just hope the President asks us for some sacrifice for this effort and directs us to many specific ways to support our troops and their families.

    December 2, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  19. Joshua

    Now, every American is an expert on military strategies/ wars. People should give Obama a break, and let's see what this new strategy will do, before we criticise and rip apart a plan that took months and military experts to come up with.
    Americans are so ignorant as to what goes on in the world outside America, and also very impatient and that is exactly why we are where we are today.

    December 2, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  20. Joanieham



    December 2, 2009 at 6:29 am |
  21. Gus Valtasaros

    I think that Obama had a good speech but I think his surge will fail in Afghanistan.

    December 2, 2009 at 6:20 am |