National Security Network

NSN Welcomes President's Announcement on Afghanistan (Updated)

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Press Release 23 June 2011

Afghanistan Afghanistan

Washington D.C. - Last night, President Obama pledged to remove 33,000 "surge" troops by the end of 2012, in keeping with his 2009 promise. The National Security Network released the following statement welcoming the commitment to steady returns home of American troops from our country's longest war:

"The president's pledge tonight marks the beginning of a responsible transition of control of Afghanistan's future to the afghans themselves," says Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network, "President Obama's announcement builds on a record of success in combating terrorism - including the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden but more broadly, the capture and killing of 20 of the top 30 terrorist leaders in the region during the last 18 months. National security experts, congressional leaders and the public back a withdrawal that begins immediately and continues steadily, coupled with political negotiations, military training, economic assistance and attention to regional arrangements."

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Paul D. Eaton, senior advisor to the National Security Network, responds, "hard work remains, but the country has come a long way. Given the success of the main mission in Afghanistan -to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its allies- a clear trajectory for responsible withdrawal is the best way to align the level of America's commitment with our interests. As the president said, we will move from a broad counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan to counterterrorist and Afghan force development missions. America's commitment to Afghanistan has been sustained and costly; our men and women in uniform have served there with bravery and honor. Now is the time to put afghans in the lead."

This transition can begin now because President Obama refocused attention and resources to stabilize the faltering situation he inherited. It is time to make real what General Petraeus and other military leaders have stressed all along: "You don't end an industrial strength insurgency by killing or capturing all the bad guys. You have to kill, capture, or turn the bad guys, and that means reintegration and reconciliation... Military action is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient."  It is time for the next phase in Afghanistan.

For more, read "The Consensus for Substantial Troop Reductions in Afghanistan"

NOTE: The top paragraph of this release was updated from an earlier version to reflect time elapsed since releasing NSN's initial statement on 22 June.