Obama to make prime-time address Wednesday on Afghan troop withdrawal
By On 21 Jun, 2011 At 01:34 PM | Categorized As Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

President Obama plans to announce a substantial drawdown of troops from Afghanistan in a high profile speech in prime-time television Wednesday night, making good on his 2009 pledge to start bringing soldiers home by July 2011.


Mr. Obama coupled his decision to send a “surge” of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2009 with a promise to bring some of them home this summer.

The president will address the nation at 8:00 p.m. ET “to lay out his plan for implementing his strategy — first unveiled in December 2009 — to draw down American troops from Afghanistan,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement Tuesday. The remarks will be Mr. Obama’s sixth address to the nation since taking office in January 2009, according to records kept by Mark Knoller of CBS News.

Published reports are all over the map.

The Los Angeles Times reports Mr. Obama plans to say 10,000 troops would be withdrawn by year’s end. The Associated Press reports Mr. Obama plans to reduce the number of troops by up to 5,000 next month, as well as a broader plan for recalling the additional 25,000 troops. That would still leave 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Administration officials told the New York Times that Mr. Obama would most likely pull out all 30,000 “surge” troops by the end of 2012.

Mr. Obama is scheduled on Thursday to visit the Fort Drum Army base in upstate New York, home of the 10th Mountain Division, which has been heavily involved in Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday reiterated an earlier comment that any decision has to be politically credible and Mr. Obama has to factor in public and congressional opinion in any decision.

“It goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in the Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment, there are concerns among the American people who are tired of a decade of war,” Gates told reporters at the State Department after a joint meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their counterparts from Japan. Clinton declined comment.

A final decision could come late Tuesday, when Mr. Obama has meetings in the Oval Office with top national security officials, including Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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