Regular television programs were interrupted on Tuesday for President Barack Obama to let the public know about his plans for ending the war in Afghanistan. According to Fox News, the president revealed the plans after returning from a surprise weekend trip to Afghanistan where he met with U.S. commanders and American forces serving in the closing months of the nation's longest war.
Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Obama said, "This year, we will bring America's longest war to a responsible end." He laid out his plan for the next couple of years that would result in keeping only 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the war formally ends later this year. The president repeated this number so that it could be reported correctly.
The plan would decrease the U.S. troops from its current force of 32,000 to 9,800 by the start of next year, and to cut the number in by the end of 2015. Nearly all those forces are to be out by the end of 2016, as Obama finishes his second term. The withdrawal plan has been long-anticipated, and it is in line with what military commanders have been seeking.
If the U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan through 2016, that would bring the length of the U.S.involvement in Afghanistan to 15 years. Afghanistan is already the longest U.S. war that has cost $538 billion and thousands of deaths and wounded soldiers.President Obama said the U.S. will stay committed to a stable and secure Afghanistan, but he added: "Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America's responsibility to make it one."
The two-year plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. While current Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement at this time, U.S. officials are confident that either one of the candidates seeking to replace him will give his approval and sign the agreement.
This would allow Obama to bring America's military engagement in Afghanistan to an end while seeking to protect the gains made in a war in which he significantly intensified U.S. involvement. President Obama said: "Now we're finishing the job we've started."