Obama Slows Afghan Drawdown: 8,400 Troops Will Remain Until Next Year
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that 8,400 troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of the year. This is approximatley 3,000 more than originally planned. Prior to this announcement the White House planned to whittle the current number of troops in Afghanistan from 9,500 down to 5,500
Over the past year and a half 38 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. Many U.S. Military officials have been pleading with Obama to not remove troops from the area. They have argued that a larger force is needed to continue to provide security and logistics support for allies in the area. Obama said in an official statement on Tuesday:
“Afghanistan is not a perfect place. It remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is going to take time for them to build up their military. I firmly believe the decision I’m announcing today is the right thing to do, for Afghanistan, the United States and the world.”
Chairman of the House Armed Services Committe Mac Thornberry (R-TX), released a statement right after Obama’s press conference demanding the President put more resources behind the troops in Afghanistan because the current funding levels threaten military readiness. There are already thousands of Americans, both civilian and military, working in Afghanistan that have not been accounted for in the budget and these new troops will strain that budget even further. He claims Obama is creating a mission that isn’t funded properly and does not have the necessary resources to succeed. Read his entire statement below.
“The precision of the President’s new Afghanistan Troop Cap would be comical were its consequences not so tragic for our mission and military readiness. It is time that the President level with the American people about what it will really take to achieve our goals in Afghanistan, and how much it will cost. The truth is that many thousands more Americans are performing military functions in Afghanistan – than even the current troop cap authorizes. The President refuses to pay for them, and his budget does not have room for the troops he is committing. For all of the bluster about funding troops in harm’s way, it is the President who proposes to extend the vital mission without any resources behind it. The White House must submit a supplemental funding request to accommodate troop levels in Afghanistan immediately.”
Reports state the troops will carry on with their assigned dual missions in Afghanistan: counterterrorism operations against Al-Qaeda and the country’s upstart ISIL franchise and training and advising the Afghan military in its fight against the Taliban.
Several Republican lawmakers have warned Obama that vacating the area will lead to a surge in Taliban presence. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) have warned Obama that he made a mistake by withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011 and that repeating his error could be catastrophic.