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2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee
Current President of the United States

Barack Obama

Presidential Candidate Barack Obama


Obama position on Afghanistan

Troops Withdrawal

On May 2, 2012, exactly one year after the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In a speech to American troops several hours later at the Bagram Air Base, about 35 miles north of the capital Kabul, President Obama announced that U.S. Forces would end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2012, and hand off security control to Afghani forces by 2014. In the remaining period, American forces will focus its efforts in transitioning "from a combat role to a training, advice and assist role" (Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta).


" ... there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I'd like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we've begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half of the Afghan people live in places where Afghan security forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more and more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan security forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force."
May 2, 2012: President Obama's address from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan


The Objectives

Excerpts of President Obama's Full Speech on Troop Reduction in Afghanistan

By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban 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 a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda, to reverse the Taliban’s 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 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 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 as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

We’re starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known …

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 replace senior terrorists that had been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam -– thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.

In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, 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.



Cost

Obama touching on the cost of the decade-long war on terror

“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. It is time to focus on nation-building here at home.”

22 June 2011, Obama’s speech from the White House East Room


Pakistan

Outlining the administration’s approach towards Pakistan

“ … need to work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keeps its commitments … ”

22 June 2011, Obama’s speech from the White House East Room


Introduction to the 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates
Mitt Romney on Afghanistan
All Presidential Candidates on Afghanistan
Compare Romney and Obama on Afghanistan





Comment on Barack Obama's position on Afghanistan

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