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President Barack Obama has announced a new strategy for Afghanistan:
"It is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."
The overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and its allies in the future. To meet these goals, said President Obama, the U.S. must pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan:
"We must deny al-Qaida a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future."
The additional 30,000 troops will deploy as fast as possible so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. That will allow U.S. forces to train competent Afghan security forces. Additionally, the U.S. will ask its NATO allies for more troops. "For what’s at stake," said President Obama, "is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world."
The U.S. will also work with the United Nations and the Afghan people to pursue an effective civilian strategy that supports leaders who combat corruption and deliver goods and services to the Afghan people.
It is clear that success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to America's partnership with Pakistan. The Taliban has taken root in the border region of Pakistan, so there must be a strategy that works on both sides of the border. The U.S. will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target extremist groups that threaten both the U.S. and Pakistan. "We cannot tolerate," said President Obama, "a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear."
The fight against the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, said President Obama is "just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes."