Washington (CNN) – The Obama administration’s announced date to begin to reverse its surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan is a “transition point” in the U.S. military presence in the country, a White House national security aide said Monday.
Denis McDonough, the chief of staff to President Obama’s National Security Council, accompanied Obama over the weekend on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan. While there, Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and American troops at a U.S. base.
McDonough told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the administration’s military plans in Afghanistan are on track.
“We’re just so excited and so proud of all that’s happening there,” McDonough said on CNN’s The Situation Room. “The surge is, in fact, on target. There's about 10,000 of our guys there. We're going to - there are obviously - the president ordered an additional 30,000 there. And that surge then will continue through the course of this year, into the summer of 2011.”
McDonough called the July 2011 date set by Obama to begin to draw down the additional troops “a transition point.”
“But this is not going to be the end of our effort there,” he said. “We have set that target as a time to draw those troops down. But the pace of that withdrawal will be determined by the situation on the ground.”
Obama’s surprise weekend trip to Afghanistan was his first since taking office. He previously visited the country during his presidential campaign.