The Way Forward in Afghanistan

Watch the "Obama Plan in Four Minutes" video to understand the basics:

The President’s strategy, as laid out in his address on December 1, 2009, maintains the core goal laid out in the beginning of his administration: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qa’ida and prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.  To accomplish this, he said we would pursue three objectives:  denying al-Qa’ida a safe haven, reversing the Taliban's momentum, and strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future. He also committed to begin the responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.

On June 22, the President addressed the American people about the way forward in Afghanistan.  We have made substantial progress on the objectives the President laid out at West Point, and he made clear that we will begin the drawdown of U.S. troops from a position of strength.  We have exceeded our expectations on our core goal of defeating al-Qa’ida – killing 20 of its top 30 leaders, including Osama bin Laden. We have broken the Taliban’s momentum, and trained over 100,000 Afghan National Security Forces.

The President announced that the United States will withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and that the 33,000 “surge” troops he approved in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the summer of 2012.  

With this way forward, we are seeking to consolidate the momentum the surge troops have gained over the last 18 months while continuing to train and partner with Afghan National Security Forces as they take the lead. This milestone will allow our commanders the time to responsibly implement a drawdown.   As these reductions proceed, our mission will transition from one of combat to support. This is fully consistent with the commitments the United States has made, along with our NATO Allies and partners, to support the Government of Afghanistan as it moves towards full responsibility for security across Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

As the President and President Karzai agreed in May 2010, we will have a strategic partnership between our nations that provides a long-term framework for our bilateral cooperation in the areas of security, economic and social development, and institution building.  This will ensure that the United States will be able to target terrorists and support a sovereign Afghan government so that our enemies cannot outlast us. We continue to support an Afghan Government-led process of reconciliation that would bring Afghans together and allow insurgents to come off the battlefield, provided they break from al-Qa’ida, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan Constitution, including its provisions on respect for the rights of all Afghans, including women.