Video: Obama to announce halving of Afghan troop strength over next year

posted at 11:21 am on February 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

CNN’s Jake Tapper reports that Barack Obama will announce a dramatic drawdown of troop strength in Afghanistan in tonight’s State of the Union speech, a signal that he’s accelerating the end game of the US combat mission. Troop strength will be cut in half over the next year, amounting to a withdrawal of 34,000 troops:

Politico has more of the details:

President Barack Obama is expected to announce Tuesday night that he’ll withdraw 34,000 more troops from Afghanistan over the coming year, the latest big move in his plan to transfer responsibility for the war to Afghanistan’s homegrown soldiers and police.

Obama will outline that goal in his State of the Union address, according to an official with knowledge of the speech. The number represents about half the troops serving in Afghanistan today, and it continues the administration’s push toward handing the Afghan National Security Forces primary responsibility for maintaining security and pursuing insurgents, even though the ANSF’s abilities lag far behind its U.S. and international patrons.

That number may change, and there is still debate over what the American presence will be at the end of the curve:

Pentagon and White House officials are said to be debating post-2014 troop levels among themselves, but have not yet made a final recommendation to Obama for the size or composition of a lingering American force. Reports have sized that potential footprint as high as 20,000 troops, and White House officials have not ruled out leaving behind none — especially if the Afghan government cannot agree to grant U.S. forces legal immunity under a future status of forces agreement.

The White House has been trying to get the Taliban to the negotiating table for quite a while, and that will be necessary — if the US is to have any influence on a general peace accord between the largely-Pashtun Taliban and the rest of the Afghan tribes in the country.  Amplifying the withdrawal rate may not be the best way to convince the Taliban that we’re going to have any leverage over them in the long run, especially while we’re talking about leaving a full withdrawal on the table.  Of course, if we aren’t serious about making the Taliban negotiate a genuine peace accord to end what has long been a civil war between the Pashtuns and everyone else, then we probably shouldn’t stick around at all.


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I can’t disagree. The sooner we get out of that hellhole the better.

bw222 on February 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Thanks. You can get a job taking VA donations outside of Kroger if you want. Part-time of course.

tomas on February 12, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Revised down afterwards

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

You lie.

Mr. Arrogant on February 12, 2013 at 11:29 AM

It’s like writing “kick me” on the backs of the last guys out.

unclesmrgol on February 12, 2013 at 11:31 AM

I can’t disagree. The sooner we get out of that hellhole the better.

bw222 on February 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM

And the Taliban terrorists will have full control of Afghanistan… and the consequences will be devastating to our national security…

mnjg on February 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM

At least get the troops out of poorly located COP/FOBs that cannot be defended – like the one SSgt Romesha was at.

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM

God be with those that remain. They are sitting ducks.

gophergirl on February 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Wipe out.

Bmore on February 12, 2013 at 11:37 AM

And the Taliban terrorists will have full control of Afghanistan… and the consequences will be devastating to our national security…

mnjg on February 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM

No more devastating than having Chuck Hagel as SecDef, a lazy coward as CINC, and a policy of apologizing to our enemies and antagonizing our allies.

Happy Nomad on February 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Good. It has been too long and with little to show for the expended blood. The Afghans don’t want what we call freedom.

sharrukin on February 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I hope that, observing the exodus, the Taliban will be happy to let them go rather than poking them with a stick and possibly slowing the process.

Or they could be just a bunch of crazy homicidal morons that want to kill foreign devils.

WitchDoctor on February 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Reality ensues for the boy-king.

This ‘war’ has gained us precious little for far too much.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 11:43 AM

I never understand Neo-Cons. One one hand they want us over there killing “Tailiban” but they will not stop or even discuss preventing immigration of Muslims, even of the most fanatical sort.

We know that Islam is a political ideology with religious overtones. Is neon-conservitivism just a competitive ideology?

Bulletchaser on February 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Hopefully, it won’t be seen as a sign of weakness by the enemy.

bill glass on February 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Long overdue.

Tasha on February 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

I never understand Neo-Cons. One one hand they want us over there killing “Tailiban” but they will not stop or even discuss preventing immigration of Muslims, even of the most fanatical sort.

Bulletchaser on February 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

When we can’t even keep out unwashed peasants from walking over the border, anything more than that is a pipe dream.

And it doesn’t at all help that our solution for numerous problems is “import more poor brown people to make up the difference.”

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

It doesn’t matter what the afghans want. They are secondary. Protection our country is paramount. We left Iraq without a voice an now we are doing the same.

I could care less about those people.

tomas on February 12, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Hey, maybe His SOS (Lt.jg John ‘eFin Kerry w/medals bedecking his chest) could go ask Putin if he’d like to take over?
Now that we’ve done (with one hand tied behind our backs, see ROE’s) what his entire military could not do.

Missilengr on February 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I never understand Neo-Cons. One one hand they want us over there killing “Tailiban” but they will not stop or even discuss preventing immigration of Muslims, even of the most fanatical sort.

We know that Islam is a political ideology with religious overtones. Is neon-conservitivism just a competitive ideology?

Bulletchaser on February 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Nice Straw Man ya’ got there.

Abelard on February 12, 2013 at 11:49 AM

This thread is about the announcement of the withdrawal, yet it looks like most comments are focusing on the latter. I’m with those who think telegraphing this move just to look cool in front of Obama’s base is a really dumb, selfish choice by the Commander-in-Chief. Withdraw them, then brag if that’s your thing.

Christien on February 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Get them all out. Stop nation-building for people that will just blow it up themselves later.

mythicknight on February 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Of course, he’ll spin it as though he’s accelerating the withdrawal because we’ve won, and the threat no longer exists.

BKeyser on February 12, 2013 at 11:57 AM

If we pull out fully, let’s make sure ALL the press leaves as well. We wouldn’t want to see pictures and videos of the slaughter of all the women teachers and all other educated females that the Taliban will immediately conduct. It’ll upset people to see such.

michaelo on February 12, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Alternate Headline :

China begins stripping of rare earth materials from Afghanistan in 2014.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Obama said this was the good war to be fought. Ok, so what was gained?
Even the Russians knew better to stay in that hell hole of a country.

mechkiller_k on February 12, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Alternate Headline :

China becomes third empire to waste time, blood, and money in Afcrapistan.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Just my 2 cents, seeing as how neither we nor the Russian Communists (who did NOT play nice at all) failed…

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Obama as CIC and CEO is laughable.

Once the D.C. elites decided we were not going to WIN wars, they never should engage in them.

So now O can sit there with his “murder flash cards.” I am just so disgusted.

CoffeeLover on February 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

If we pull out fully, let’s make sure ALL the press leaves as well. We wouldn’t want to see pictures and videos of the slaughter of all the women teachers and all other educated females that the Taliban will immediately conduct. It’ll upset people to see such.

michaelo on February 12, 2013 at 11:59 AM

I would rather we do see all of that so those in the west finally get the obvious notion that we are creating an unreal Peter Pan vision that will never survive in those societies. The dimwits have to face reality at some point and the sooner the better.

Besides watching the reporters get chased across the countryside trying to get out would also be a lot of fun.

sharrukin on February 12, 2013 at 12:04 PM

If we pull out fully, let’s make sure ALL the press leaves as well. We wouldn’t want to see pictures and videos of the slaughter of all the women teachers and all other educated females that the Taliban will immediately conduct. It’ll upset people to see such.

michaelo on February 12, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Yes. We don’t want the folks to see what these people really are. It might make the libbys cry as they figure out a way to blame our troops and Bush.

VegasRick on February 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Just my 2 cents, seeing as how neither we nor the Russian Communists (who did NOT play nice at all) failed…

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Currently China is mining gold and drilling oil in Africa in some pretty violent places. They really don’t care about killing off an entire village to setup ground to mine areas and apparently the UN doesn’t care to notice. Do you really think they’ll care to notice once the US is out of Afghanistan?

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Why not get them all out?

ctmom on February 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Currently China is mining gold and drilling oil in Africa in some pretty violent places. They really don’t care about killing off an entire village to setup ground to mine areas and apparently the UN doesn’t care to notice. Do you really think they’ll care to notice once the US is out of Afghanistan?

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:15 PM

In Africa, “violent places” usually means a jumble of barbarians running around with African Credit Cards and RPGs, maybe with some heavier hardware. They’re dangerous, but not at all well organized.

If they march into Afcrapistan they’ll face the might of jihad. That’s where things could get “interesting”, as their curse goes.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

No luck with the noble Afghan Muslims. Maybe there will be better luck with the Muslims in America down the road when they begin to feel their oats.

BL@KBIRD on February 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Alternate Headline :

China becomes third empire to waste time, blood, and money in Afcrapistan.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

At least fifth empire, you clueless rubes. They have been preceded by the Macedonians, the Brits, the Russians, and the Yanks.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

At least fifth empire, you clueless rubes. They have been preceded by the Macedonians, the Brits, the Russians, and the Yanks.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

D’whooops.

I failed at that bit of history. Thanks for the correction.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:29 PM

After we are gone will the beheading videos be on YouTube?

docflash on February 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM

with those who think telegraphing this move just to look cool in front of Obama’s base is a really dumb, selfish choice by the Commander-in-Chief. Withdraw them, then brag if that’s your thing.
Christien on February 12, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Not even then.. Nothing like bragging about troop presence being sparce to put those that are left there in danger.

melle1228 on February 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM

If they march into Afcrapistan they’ll face the might of jihad. That’s where things could get “interesting”, as their curse goes.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM

The Chinese will be the first one to win. The reason: They are the first empire that has a great excess of population in conjunction with a could-not-care-less attitude towards MSM and public opinion. You cannot do guerrilla when your enemy’s ROE is “10 yuan per head”.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

The Chinese will be the first one to win. The reason: They are the first empire that has a great excess of population in conjunction with a could-not-care-less attitude towards MSM and public opinion. You cannot do guerrilla when your enemy’s ROE is “10 yuan per head”.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

That is a legitimate point. Communism and Islam both treat individuals as disposable…would be interesting to see which one was victorious. Islam is barbaric and stupid, but they’re not pushovers by any means.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM

If they march into Afcrapistan they’ll face the might of jihad. That’s where things could get “interesting”, as their curse goes.

One thing for sure is they won’t be hampered by our strict rules of engagement. And the PRC has tons more of disposable young men to feed into the meat grinder of Afghanistan.

hawkeye54 on February 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

That is a legitimate point. Communism and Islam both treat individuals as disposable…would be interesting to see which one was victorious. Islam is barbaric and stupid, but they’re not pushovers by any means.

MelonCollie on February 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM

In yet another unfortunate history lesson, I have to remind you that the Western world has already tried to pit Communism and Fascism in an attempt to figure which one emerges victorious. What makes you think that Islam will fare any better? For all their oil wealth, there is exactly one barrier between them and going back to banging livestock and eating camel dung, and it’s Western stupidity that we tend to mistake for benevolence.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 12:54 PM

China begins stripping of rare earth materials from Afghanistan in 2014.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM

But but they belong to US!

DarkCurrent on February 12, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Good. I feel bad for the Afghans who desire western-style freedoms, but the strong majority has spoken. The Afghan people want Islamic radicalism whether by the Taliban’s hand or some other extremist’s. It’s the future they have chosen and I see no point in Americans continuing to die (especially at the hands of their alleged allies) for that future.

LukeinNE on February 12, 2013 at 2:41 PM

Obama inherited 43,000 troops in Afcrapistan from Bush. He has already gotten twice as many America troops killed there as Bush did and in half the time. So what more do the idiot COINdinistas want?

VorDaj on February 12, 2013 at 6:42 PM