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News | Nov. 25, 2009

President provides glimpse of Afghanistan strategy

President Obama said Afghan troops will play a large role in his soon-to-be announced strategy for Afghanistan.
President Obama said Afghan troops will play a large role in his soon-to-be announced strategy for Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON (Nov. 24, 2009) – President Barack Obama said he will announce his decision on the strategy and troop request for Afghanistan “shortly after Thanksgiving.”

During a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Obama said the strategy review he and his national security team performed was extremely useful, and he provided a glimpse at the conclusions.

“I can tell you … that it is in our strategic interest, in our national security interest, to make sure that al-Qaida and its extremist allies cannot operate effectively in those areas,” Obama said. “We are going to dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately dismantle and destroy their networks. And Afghanistan’s stability is important to that process.”

The president said that since the United States went into Afghanistan, the war there lacked the resources or strategy to deal effectively with the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies. “It is my intention to finish the job,” he said. “And I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, they will be supportive.”

Obama stressed that Afghan security is important globally. “The whole world, I think, has a core security interest in making sure that the kind of extremism and violence that you’ve seen emanating from this region is tackled, confronted in a serious way,” the president said.

Singh agreed with that assessment.

“It is important for the international community to sustain its engagement in Afghanistan, to help its emergence as a modern state,” the Indian prime minister said. “The forces of terrorism in our region pose a grave threat to the entire civilized world and have to be defeated. President Obama and I have decided to strengthen our cooperation in the area of counterterrorism.”

Confronting extremism must be a multinational effort, Obama said, noting that his announcement of the strategy will include the obligations of international partners.

The strategy, he added, will recognize that the Afghan people ultimately are going to have to provide for their own security.

“So we’ll be discussing that process whereby Afghan security forces are properly trained and equipped to do the job,” he said. “And it’s going to be important to recognize that in order for us to succeed there, you’ve got to have a comprehensive strategy that includes civilian and diplomatic efforts.”