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June 22nd, 2011
06:15 PM ET

Obama to outline Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama will deliver a nationally televised address Wednesday night outlining his long-awaited plan to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan - a move meant to appeal to a war-weary public without damaging American security interests.

The president's speech is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Obama will announce that all 33,000 U.S. "surge" forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 2012, according to a senior administration official.

Members of Congress are being informed that roughly 10,000 troops will be withdrawn by the end of this year, followed by approximately 20,000 next year, a congressional source said.

The time frame would give U.S. commanders another two "fighting" seasons with the bulk of U.S. forces still available for combat operations.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has pushed for additional time to roll back Taliban gains in the country before starting any significant withdrawal - a position at odds with a majority of Americans, according to recent public opinion surveys.

Gates - along with Afghan war commander Gen. David Petraeus - had pushed for an initial drawdown of 3,000 to 5,000 troops this year, the congressional source said. The secretary also urged the president to withdraw support troops only - not combat troops.

Obama, however, ultimately decided to adopt a more aggressive withdrawal plan.

Gates acknowledged Tuesday that the president must take into account public opinion and congressional support for further military engagement.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Afghanistan
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Spidey1

    Done all for his re-election. Period.

    June 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm |