Statement by the President on the End of the Combat Mission in Afghanistan
Today’s ceremony in Kabul marks a milestone for our country. For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan. Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.
Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and the Afghan people and their security forces continue to make tremendous sacrifices in defense of their country. At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States–along with our allies and partners–will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.
These past 13 years have tested our nation and our military. But compared to the nearly 180,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan when I took office, we now have fewer than 15,000 in those countries. Some 90 percent of our troops are home.
In December Obama said 180,000 troops, and yesterday he said
At our peak four years ago, the United States had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan
Here is where he publicly announces changing the troop withdrawal timeline
As we announced yesterday, we’ll work with Congress on funding to sustain 352,000 Afghan police and troops through 2017. At the same time, we’ll continue to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations, and we agreed to maintain a dialogue on our counterterrorism partnership in the years ahead.
At our peak four years ago, the United States had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. In support of today’s narrow missions, we have just under 10,000 troops there. Last year, I announced a timeline for drawing down our forces further, and I’ve made it clear that we’re determined to preserve the gains our troops have won. President Ghani has requested some flexibility on our drawdown timelines. I’ve consulted with General Campbell in Afghanistan and my national security team, and I’ve decided that we will maintain our current posture of 9,800 troops through the end of this year.
The specific trajectory of the 2016 drawdown will be established later this year to enable our final consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016. This flexibility reflects our reinvigorated partnership with Afghanistan, which is aimed at making Afghanistan secure and preventing it from being used to launch terrorist attacks. Reconciliation and a political settlement remain the surest way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan in a way that safeguards international interests and peace in Afghanistan, as well as U.S. national security interests.
Defense contractors are happy about ISIS because they had been losing money from the withdrawal in Afghanistan
Sales slumped 8.5 percent to 16.64 billion pounds as a result of a 600 million-pound hit from exchange-rate changes and lower volumes in the Land & Armaments unit, where demand has dropped with the exit from Afghanistan
Meanwhile we’ve known that secretly Obama has slowed the withdrawal from Afghanistan since the end of November as he announced an increased role for remaining troops (just as the NATO mission was ending)
President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.
Delaying the closure of two key bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad.
Nominating war hawk Ashton Carter to take over for Chuck Hagel.
In his nomination hearing Carter said as much that we need to keep troops there longer and that he would tell Obama that
Carter: I think that success is possible there but, as you indicate, requires the United States to continue its campaign and finish the job. I understand we have a plan. The President has a plan. I support that plan. At the same time, it is a plan. And if I am confirmed and I ascertain, as the years ago [sic] by, that we need to change that plan, I will recommend those changes to the President.
Chairman McCain: Well, all I can say is it is not a matter of years. It is a matter of weeks, actually, because one of the major withdrawals is going to start this coming June.
Senator McCain and other Republicans have long cited the rise of ISIS as a result of Obama’s “decision” to withdraw troops from Iraq instead of the invasion in 2003 as the real cause.
as part of its counterterror activities authorized under the Bilateral Security Agreement put into place once Ashraf Ghani assumed the presidency. Unlike the days of the Karzai presidency, the John Kerry-invented National Unity Government of Ghani and Abdullah not only doesn’t protest US night raids, it actively works with the US to hide all news of them:
The spike in raids is at odds with policy declarations in Washington, where the Obama administration has deemed the American role in the war essentially over. But the increase reflects the reality in Afghanistan, where fierce fighting in the past year killed record numbers of Afghan soldiers, police officers and civilians.
And the government has twice tried to classify information coming out of Afghanistan in another attempt to declare the war over as fighting continues
The military has joined in Obama’s gamesmanship, taking as much of the war effort behind curtains of secrecy as it possibly can. In October, it suddenly classified information on Afghan troop capabilities and then in January it tried to expand that classification to nearly all information coming out of the war.
Those who support the war continue to talk about how great things are in Afghanistan because we’ve been there for 14 years
Carter nomination hearing
Senator Kaine: We have, at the expense of blood and treasure, achieved a lot in Afghanistan. I mean, the nation’s life expectancy has gone from 44 to 61 in 10 years. And you know, my back of the envelope math, I always say 30 million people living on an average 17 years longer. That is 510 million years of human life. That seems like a pretty good ROI to me, for as painful as it has been, for as expensive as it has been.
Situation in Afghanistan Feb 11, 2015
Senator McCain: More than 2,200 Americans have given their lives in Afghanistan, and thousands more have been wounded. And the progress they have enabled is extraordinary. The number of Afghan children in school has increased tenfold since 2001, from less than 1 million to almost 10 million today. Forty percent of these students are girls, and 40 percent of Afghan teachers today are women. Life expectancy has increased by over 20 years in less than a generation, an achievement unheard of in modern history. Less than 10 percent of the Afghan population supports the Taliban, while over 70 percent express the confidence — express confidence in the Afghan military. These gains and others are significant. But, as General Mattis testified last month, the gains achieved at great cost against our enemy in Afghanistan are reversible. Afghan National Security Forces are now leading the fight and responsible for safeguarding their country. They’ve made real progress as a fighting force. The Afghan army and police maintained their professionalism during the presidential runoff last summer, upholding security and allowing the democratic process to play out without armed intervention. And, while the casualty rates of our Afghan partners in their fight against the Taliban are high, there is no doubt — none whatsoever — about the Afghan willingness to fight and die for their country. But, like the Iraqi Security Forces at the end of 2011, the Afghan National Security Forces are still developing some key enabling capabilities, the shortfalls sounding eerily familiar: intelligence, logistics, airlift, close-air support, special forces, and institutional development. Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan are developing plans to address these shortfalls, but they need the time, resources, and authorities to help our Afghan partners to develop these nascent capabilities. As I’ve said before, wars do not end just because politicians say so. Indeed, in Afghanistan we’ve seen an initial emergence of ISIS as well as the residual capabilities of al-Qaeda wrapped in their support network of the Taliban insurgency. The world walked away from Afghanistan once, and it descended into chaotic violence that became the platform for the worst terrorist attack in history against our homeland. The threats are real and the stakes are high. We can’t let Afghanistan become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda or ISIS. Failure in this manner would destabilize the region, especially by undermining the security of a nuclear-armed Pakistan. Worst still, failure would condemn millions of Afghans, especially women and girls, to live again under the tyranny of violent radicals. We can’t turn the clock back in Iraq, but we can, and we must, apply the tragic lesson that we learned in Iraq to Afghanistan. To preserve the progress enabled by our troops and the Afghan people, President Obama must replace his plan for unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan with a conditions-based drawdown and a clear commitment to maintain a limited residual force. If the President repeats his mistakes from Iraq, we can expect a similar disaster in Afghanistan: growing instability, terrorist safe havens, horrific human rights abuses, the rapid dissolution of the hard-won gains that our men and women in uniform purchased at such high cost, and, ultimately, direct threats to the United States.
While American policy makers and war hawks are counting children in school and longer life expectancy as wins in the war in Afghanistan, and they are to some extent, they are not the reasons we went into Afghanistan, and 2014 was the deadliest year yet, for Afghan civilians and the Afghan military forces.
Some 5,000 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in 2014. That’s more than the US lost in all 13 years of combat operations. In addition, more than 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed.
What’s the ROI on that Senators McCain and Kaine?
Meanwhile as newly elected President Ashraf Ghani visits to praise from the American elite and mainstream media, he was at Council on Foreign Relations, NPR and the New York Times, thanking troops for their sacrifice at the Pentagon. (I also noticed he was in Saudi Arabia in March for Hajj)
Here is the official Taliban response to Obama’s announcement reiterating their opposition to foreign occupation
The Afghans will never accept foreign occupation
And as America commits to keeping it’s troops in Afghanistan for at least 2 more years, Bowe Bergdahl was charged under UCMJ Articles 85 (desertion) and 99 (misbehavior before the enemy) and for being fed up with the war and destruction as many other soldiers are and like many in the military not knowing about conscientious objector status or how to apply
Conscientious Objection information by Branch
As The Guardian has reported in a video filmed with Bergdahl’s unit in 2009 right before Bowe left, Bergdahl was not the only soldier acknowledging that the war had many problems and that Afghans hated occupation
Yet in emails to his family published in 2012 by Rolling Stone, Bergdahl, too, expressed doubt and bitterness over the mission, much like his colleagues in the video, who question the wisdom of the arduous counterinsurgency and nation-building mission featured in the US’s longest-ever war.
“They all hate us here anyway,” one soldier says. Another remarks: “They just want to be left alone, man. The same thing in Iraq, when I was there. These people just want to be left alone.”
The 501st appears isolated from the Afghan population, unable even to speak with the Afghans in whose name they fight except through radio communication with an interpreter, as Bergdahl watches. At one point, soldiers seem to consider throwing rocks at nearby Afghan children. The soldiers’ hilltop outpost is constructed near a burial site. One warns: “It’s not gonna be pretty when they come up here and get pissed off at us for desecrating their graveyard.”
Now we are hearing from defense a clarification on claims that Bergdahl did not intend to desert, instead saying he intended to report on
problems with “order and discipline” at Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika province and also had concerns about “leadership issues at his base.”
In 2012, Bergdahl’s father, Bob Bergdahl, disclosed a series of emails from his son to Rolling Stone magazine.
Bowe Bergdahl wrote that three “good” sergeants in his unit had been forced to move to another company and that his battalion commander was a “conceited old fool.”
Bob Bergdahl video interview on destruction of war and comparing POWs to Guantanamo
End the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Close Guantanamo. Repeal the PATRIOT Act and 9/11 AUMF and let’s end the war on terror.
If you really want to win against ISIS here is how to do it.
- pursue a comprehensive diplomatic, political, economic, and regionally led strategy to degrade and dismantle the Islamic State
- work through the United Nations and with allies and regional partners, including the Arab League, to pursue a political and diplomatic solution
- address the legitimate political grievances of all ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and Syria and to protect vulnerable groups from violence
- implement to the fullest extent United Nations Security Council Resolution 2170 (2014), calling on Member States to act to suppress the flow of foreign fighters, financing, and other support