In a televised June 22 address from the White House to a war-weary American audience, President Barack Obama made good on the commitment he made two years ago for removing U. S. troops from Afghanistan.
Obama said that while the U. S intends to remain committed to Afghanistan’s future, by the end of the year, 10,000 troops will have been removed from Afghanistan.
"And we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point," Obama in a speech that lasted just under 15 minutes. "After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace."
The president added that the (military’s) mission will now change from combat to support, and that "by 2014 the "process of transition" will be completed, leaving the Afghanistan people responsible for their own security.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Obama’s withdrawal plan for Afghanistan marks the beginning of the end of a troop-intensive approach to countering a Taliban insurgency -- which had been fighting the U.S. and its NATO allies to a standstill.
However, as Obama faces re-election in 2012, the scale back in troops could work to his benefit.
"From the standpoint of the American psyche, I think this will be welcomed," Kiron K. Skinner, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for International Relations and Politics and a former adviser to the Pentagon, was quoted as telling the AP.
The AP also reported that at least 1,500 members of the U.S. military have died and 12,000 have been wounded since the war began in late 2001.