ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports:
In announcing his withdrawal strategy from Afghanistan tonight, President Obama made clear that the U.S. is achieving the goals he outlined for the nearly decade-long war and now it’s “time to focus on nation building here at home.”
“Tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding,” the president told the nation.
After months of review, the president outlined the withdrawal of the 33,000 “surge” troops that he deployed in December 2009, and committed to begin withdrawing in July. Obama announced that he is bringing 10,000 U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of next summer, several months earlier than originally anticipated. “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 will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place,” Obama said. “What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures – one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.”
After the initial reduction, troops will continue to come home and America’s mission will change from combat to support, the president said.
“By 2014," he said, "this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.”
Facing waning public support for the mission and lawmakers demanding he refocus America’s resources, Obama turned his focus back to the home front.
“Over the last decade, we have spent $1 trillion on war at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource – our people,” he said. “Let us responsibly end these wars and reclaim the American dream that is at the center of our story.”
- Mary Bruce