President Barack Obama has had quite a busy Tuesday thus far, this after announcing from the Rose Garden this afternoon that he intends to keep 9, 800 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The president said that the troop numbers will dwindle down to a support level by 2016.
Today’s announcement was part of a wide-reaching strategy from the Obama administration, which saw the president addressing troops in Afghanistan over the weekend and a day before a foreign policy address to be delivered at West Point Wednesday. President Obama was stern and brief in his announcement, saying that troops leaving the region is still the goal for 2016 but that the 9, 800 troops will remain to train Afghan troops and uphold counter-terrorism measures.
“I think Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” Obama said. “Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century, not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility.“
Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who is outgoing, has not signed a Bilateral Security Agreement which would give legal protection to U.S. forces in the region. His potential successors have said they will sign the BSA whenever they’re to take office.
Critics of Obama’s withdrawal plans have said that the president is moving too swiftly in that regard. President Obama addressed those who have been critical of his aims.
“We have to recognize Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it’s not the U.S.’s responsibility to make it one,” Obama said.
On Monday at the Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama told attendees of a Memorial Day ceremony that the war with Afghanistan will be done by the end of this year.
Earlier today, President Obama hosted the 2014 White House Science Fair.