Wednesday, December 2, 2009



December 02, 2009 - US President Barack Obama has ordered 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan but warned America would begin to withdraw its military forces by 2011.
Soldiers will be deployed as quickly as possible, bringing US troop strength in the country to more than 100,000.

World security was at stake, Mr Obama said, calling for more allied troops. The mission in Afghanistan, he added, was to defeat al-Qaeda, reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny them the ability to overthrow the government.

Mr Obama reached his deployment decision after more than three months of deliberations and 10 top-level meetings with advisers. Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, welcomed the speech, saying he had been given "a clear military mission" and the necessary resources.

Some 32,000 other foreign troops are serving in Afghanistan but Nato allies have been cautious about contributing further forces.

But Nato's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said he was confident 5,000 extra troops could be found.

In Afghanistan, the government also welcomed the decision. But there is concern that putting a date on a US withdrawal sends the wrong signal, says the BBC's Ian Pannell in Kabul.

It risks giving encouragement to the Taliban, our correspondent says, and most Afghans do not want more troops but direct talking to the insurgents to end the conflict.

In his speech, Mr Obama:

celebrated the US as a nation "founded in resistance to oppression" and talked about its long record of sacrifice in "advancing frontiers of human liberty"

promised an "effective partnership" with Pakistan, and warned that the US could not "tolerate a safe haven for terrorists "

repeatedly cited the poor economy and stated that the estimated cost - $30bn for the US military this year - was a factor in his deliberations

Taliban threat

Mr Obama delivered his nationally televised speech to cadets at the West Point military academy in New York.

Stressing that the US was in Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attacks on America by al-Qaeda militants, he said that their Taliban allies had "begun to take control over swathes of Afghanistan" while committing "devastating acts of terrorism" against Pakistan.

US forces, he said, lacked "the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population".

"I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan," he told the cadets. "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home." Rising violence - more than 900 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan - and August's discredited elections have fanned mounting domestic opposition to the eight-year-old war.

Mr Obama said he was aware of the gravity of his decision to send the extra troops but he urged Americans not to see the conflict as a new Vietnam war. America was backed by a "broad coalition of 43 nations", he said, and was not facing a "broad-based popular insurgency".

"Most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border," the US leader added.