Obama to Announce 33,000-Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan

From Politico:

President Barack Obama is expected to announce on Wednesday his plan to withdraw by the end of 2012 the 33,000 additional surge troops sent to Afghanistan, with at least 5,000 personnel – a brigade – to exit by the close of this year, administration officials told POLITICO.

Obama has yet to determine the precise pace of the drawdown that he will outline during an 8 p.m. ET address to the nation from the White House, people familiar with the situation said.

Following the withdrawal of the brigade in 2011, the president also is considering removing an additional 5,000 troops from Afghanistan by next spring, the sources said.

Whatever the pace, all 33,000 forces that were part of the surge would be gone by the end of 2012, sources told POLITICO.

45 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ArapaGOP says:

    Obama can’t win the war Americans want him to win in Afghanistan, so he emboldens the enemy by specifying a withdrawal date they can plan around. But at the same time, he won’t obey the law on the war he started himself in Libya.

    It must be very strange to be an “antiwar” liberal right now.

    • Ralphie says:

      Bin Laden is dead.  The reason Bush got us into Afghanistan in the first place is moot.

      Karzai doezn’t want us there. The Afghan people don’t want us there.

      Fuck them all.

      And define “win.”

      Americans just want us out.

      • Ralphie says:

        I know it’s not Rasmussen, but it’s dated today.


      • Karzai and the people of Afghanistan don’t seem to want us there.  How much do we really want this to be an unwelcome occupation rather than a co-operative nation-building mission?

        For those of you clamoring for an authorization for our position assisting NATO in Libya, wouldn’t you say that a switch from aggressive war against the Taliban to occupation of Afghanistan under its new government needs a new Congressional vote?

        • ArapaGOP says:

          For one thing, the Karzai government is barely functional outside of Kabul and you know it. He’s not qualified to tell us his country is stable.

          Your second question is silly. There WAS a vote in Congress authorizing military action in Afghanistan. It has been reaffirmed over and over by Congress approving funds. The war in Libya has never been authorized by anyone except Obama. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the two are at all the same.

          • BlueCat says:

            No one has ever held it to their advantage.  It bankrupted the Soviet Union and it’s bankrupting us and whether we stay a day or 20 more years it will be the same as it ever was the second we leave.

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            is one of those anarchocapitalist whatchmathingys that Mark G and his ilk wanted Pols to build for them.  (They’ve at least got the anarcho part solid.)

          • I can agree with you all I want on Karzai’s level of control over his country, but he was elected by the country as a whole and it his his country to run.  In my opinion, if we leave today, we’ll be back mopping up another mess in a decade, because the country isn’t stable.

            But that’s a different mission than going to Afghanistan, or setting up a replacement government.  Both of those are done; the war – if you’re going to set up conditions for victory and withdrawal like we keep hearing calls for from both Republican and Democratic sides – is over.  That replacement government, moreover, wants us out and has the autonomy to do so, regardless of the wisdom of doing so.

            I’m not equating Libya to Afghanistan, and thank you for putting words in my mouth by implying that.  What I’m saying is that anyone complaining about an undefined mission and scope creep in Libya should be similarly complaining about Afghanistan…

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      –Barack Obama

      Inconsistency is where, again?

      • State Line says:

        of troops at the end of his term that he inherited from Dubya at the beginning.

        I think even Obama is finally figuring out our campaign in Afghanistan is, indeed, a dumb war……and yet he remains mired there…..

        Too bad: he should have listened to Biden and the other minimalists back in 2009 rather than deciding to double down on our forces there.

        (Not to mention the Libya campaign is also truly a dumb war – one which your hero Obomber rushed into precipitously.

        He really ought to ask for congressional authorization to continue it – Democrats and Republican members of Congress should both insist on that. Hint: he’d likely win that vote.)

    • dlof says:

      What war do American’s want won in Afganistan?

      Personally, and I but this would poll pretty strong, what I think we ought to win in Afganistan is a race out of the country.

      Oh, who’s the enemy, again?

    • ClubTwitty says:


      A Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday shows that 56 percent of those surveyed would like to see a drawdown happen as soon as possible – an increase of eight percentage points since Pew’s previous survey a month ago.

      A year ago, just 40 percent of those surveyed wanted to see a rapid drawdown. In September 2008, 33 percent of Americans wanted all U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.


      A majority of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, and just a quarter say more U.S. troops should be sent to the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


      WASHINGTON – American support for the war in Afghanistan has ebbed to a new low, as attacks on U.S. troops and their allies have hit record levels and commanders are pleading for reinforcements, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

      In the poll taken Saturday and Sunday, 42% of respondents said the United States made “a mistake” in sending military forces to Afghanistan, up from 30% in February. That’s the highest mark since the poll first asked the question in November 2001 when the U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks.

      In January 2002, 6% of respondents called the war “a mistake.”


      “From what you have seen or heard about the situation in Afghanistan, what should the United States do now? Should the U.S. increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, keep the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan as there are now, or decrease the numbers of troops in Afghanistan?”

       6/3-7/11   Decrease 64 %


      The polling firm Rasmussen, whose surveys are often accused of having a decidedly conservative tilt, finds that for the first time, a majority of likely voters want the U.S. government to set a timetable to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan within one year. Within that group, 31 percent want troops to come home immediately. In September 2010, just 43 percent of likely voters wanted a one-year timeline.


      • ArapaGOP says:

        Do you have any more 2009 polls you’d like to cite? Check your dates before you post! Both the WaPo poll and the USA TODAY poll are over two years old.


        Stuff you skipped from one of the links that was actually recent:

        “Do you think the U.S. made the right decision or the wrong decision in using military force in Afghanistan?”


        decision Wrong

        decision Unsure  

            % % %  


        57 35 8

        57% of Americans say this was a war worth fighting. Also, the percentage of Americans who say the war is going better is much higher now. Look at the numbers from this poll, from June 15-19, 2011 unlike your two year old examples.

        That might make a fickle public more willing to entertain a withdrawal timeline, but it doesn’t change anything about the strategic folly of doing so. That’s why generals run wars, not polls (at least when Democrats aren’t in charge).

        • ClubTwitty says:

          People supported it then, still recognize they supported it then, but support is declining for NOW, 2011–a decade after the war began, after target #1 was eliminated, after the economy tanked…

          I posted 5 polls, and many of the links show trends…

          Personally, I support a GOP strategy of clinging to unpopular rigid positions.  So keep it up, good work.  

    • TobiasFunke says:

      find it hard to believe that anyone still trots out that “emboldens the enemy” bullshit and expects to be taken seriously.

      • ArapaGOP says:

        If you tell the enemy exactly when you will disengage and stop fighting them, why would they negotiate with you in the meantime?

        I hate to break it to you but many people do feel this way, just not in this liberal echo chamber.

          • ArapaGOP says:

            The Taliban provided an operational base and logistical support for Al Qaeda, both before and after the US invasion. They have continued to provide support for Al Qaeda in areas they control. There are still thousands of Arab Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan killing our forces and plotting terrorist attacks against us.

            As liberals have said for years, the real war on terror has always been in Afghanistan.

            • BlueCat says:

              unless we tell them we’re leaving?  Andd really, the Taliban was only our problem when they were providing a haven and training ground for Qaeda. They weren’t attacking us on our own soil. No Taliban on planes or blowing things up in Europe.  As far as I can tell, they’re pretty much into their own soil.

              At a certain point you have to decide how many more billions you want to spend on a situation that’s going nowhere we need to go. From the era of Alexander the Great through the era of the British and, before us, the Soviets, foreigners have spent tons fighting in Afghanistan and, nevergetting much out of it worth all the blood and treasure  it was costing, given up and gone home. There are simply no great deals to be made there and no one to make them with  who could make them stick if there were.

              It’s going to be tough getting out. We should start sooner rather than later.  

              • ArapaGOP says:

                You can say that for sure at all. Recruits from Al Qaeda turn up all over the world.

                In fact, it’s amazing what short memories you have…


                • BlueCat says:

                  I know many of your inclination find that confusing. And nothing  wrong with my memory.  Since we drove Qaeda out of Afghanistan the Qaeda kills and captures have overwhelmimgly been the result of intel, criminal investigations by various police, FBI and security entities and targeted special ops. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had very little to do with what we all remember, junior.  

                • ClubTwitty says:

                  Funny, the article makes it sound like he was captured by law enforcement in the US.  Oh, you’re saying that by keeping troops indefinitely in Afghanistan we’ll prevent another bad guy in the US from going to Pakistan and training with AQ?  Since it clearly worked so well for this guy?  Oh wait, it didn’t.  He went to Pakistan in 2008–while we were in Afghanistan.

                  In fact, it’s amazing what faulty reasoning skills you have…


        • SSG_Dan says:

          There are a few people on this website that can talk with any authority about military operations above videogame level – EmeraldKnight (who I miss dearly) Barron X and myself.

          (If there are other vets who contribute who have Operational and Tactical planning experience, I apologize in advance.)

          If you seem to think a withdrawal of a military unit above Company size consists of telling the local Afghans you’re going out for a smoke, hopping into a MWRP and driving off into the sunset, then you’re a History-channel watching nincompoop.

          This isn’t World War I where the units are faced off across barbed wire and can see each other. This is an extremely fluid Counter-insurgency operation where units may deploy into hardened sites (Restrepo if you haven’t seen it), but usually deploy rapidly using air mobile or other kinds of vehicles.

          No soldier or Marine is going up to the “front lines” and flipping the bird to the Taliban prior to getting on a helicopter. Most of them are already out of active contact and could start redeploying home in a few weeks.

          Why would the three main anti-gov Taliban tribes want to negotiate? Getting bombs and Hellfire missiles dropped on their heads all the time is one reason, and another is that they’ve been chased from every set-piece battlefield they’ve been dumb enough to fight in. They have no cred with the main tribes of Afghanistan, and can only influence events with terrorist attacks, not military forces.

          They still have considerable influence in the hillbilly regions of AFPAK to be a political force, so they’re now at the table negotiating. They’re also keeping an eye on their asses since OBL got whacked with a Special Ops raid, because they can’t be sure that they’re next.

          THAT’S why this will work. Pres. Obama LISTENS to his Generals, unlike that smirking chimp before him…

          • Barron X says:


            What would that look like ?  

            Well, the US military and Naval and Air Force personnel would most likely be replaced by Contractor personnel, with hardly a blip in OPTEMPO.

            See, for example, https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=op

            In the last 60 days, the SOF and Army in A’stan have issued solicitations for about 30 new contracts for more Mercenaries.  


            Why privatize the entire war ?

            Well, then a withdrawal doesn’t look like our military is being pushed out,

            it just looks like some contracts weren’t renewed.


            • SSG_Dan says:

              …and I wonder if it’s for the security of the Civil Affair activities of the US and other NGO’s.

              Bagram will still be a mobile firebase for a significant number of troops, and we’re still going to have lots of Special Ops running around the countryside calling in CAS.

              NATO has taken your advice and decided to leave the Pasthun hillbillies alone, with the understanding if any significant sized Taliban unit moves toward a major (or even minor) city or highway, they’ll be blown to bits by drones or airstrikes.

              But yeah – this isn’t Iraq.  33K+ bby Xmas very easily. There’s not entire COSCOM or Mech/Armor battalions that need to be put on flatbeds or rail cars and shipped to a port. It’s “grab your ass and trash and get on the aircraft.”

        • cologeek says:

          This isn’t a unilateral pullout, it’s pulling out the troops from last years “surge”.  They aren’t needed there now, they did the job they were sent to do, they broke the Talibans will to fight in the open.  There will still be forces in the area in more that sufficient strengh to handle any insurgent operations that may conceivably take place in the near future.  There is no point in keeping them there.


          • Ralphie says:

            Right on all counts, Cologeek.

            But I still haven’t read ArapGOP’s definition of “win.”

            He owes us that.

            • BlueCat says:

              in the entire known history of the world there has been no “win” in Afghanistan.  Just getting sucked dry and pulling out with nothing to show for it.  

              • Ralphie says:

                Since ArapGOP raised the issue, I’m waiting for his/her definition.

                • BlueCat says:

                  he may not be able to come up with one.

                  • Ralphie says:

                    Leave that up to him.

                    He’s been curiously absent from this discussion since the question was asked.

                    • BlueCat says:

                      Put your talking  points out there. Avoid answering questions that would require back up facts?

                    • ArapaGOP says:

                      Victory in Afghanistan is a nation that can police itself internally, and does not represent an external threat.


                    • Ralphie says:

                      So what more have we achieved with the blood of our sons and daughters?

                    • What we got from entering Afghanistan is displacing al Qaeda from its relatively secure home and overthrowing a government that explicitly allowed their presence.  It was an object lesson in the new war on terror as much as it was pursuit of al Qaeda itself (which as we’ve seen in Pakistan can be done with an only barely tolerant government and judicious ignorance of national airspace boundaries…)

                      And one thing we promised that we should try to deliver on: we should not leave that country without at least trying to patch it into a workable whole again.  We ditched the Afghanistan people in the 1980s after the Soviets withdrew and we wound up with the Taliban and al Qaeda…

                      If you’re going to go to war, expect that it’s going to be messy and that you’ll have a lot of cleanup to do after the actual killing, unless you want to repeat the whole exercise again a few decades down the road.

  2. cologeek says:

    So by the next election the troop levels in Afghanistan will be roughly the same as when Presiden Obama took office.  Well if they are not needed, bring them home.

    • Barron X says:


      When Obama took office, there were roughly 35,000 US armed forces personnel in Afghanistan.  They were teamed with about 65,000 troops from NATO and other allies.

      In the first few months of his term, Obama doubled that to about 70,000.

      The “Surge” of another 34,000 was started in early 2010.  

      So, if the “Surge” numbers are drawn down, we will be down to only DOUBLE the number of personnel when Obama became CINC.


  3. c rork says:

    That my friends are some of the 33,000 leaving.

  4. thethinker says:

    that Obama is not withdrawing troops much more rapidly then this.  Having Obama be a warmonger is not the sort of change that I voted for.

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