March 29th, 2009
12:54 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama warns of limit to Afghan troop commitment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The president was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday when he announced his strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama warned Sunday that while his administration is now increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, America's military commitment to the troubled Islamic republic would not be open-ended.

"It's not going to be an open-ended commitment of infinite resources. We've just got to make sure that we are focused on achieving what we need," Obama said during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Friday, Obama announced plans to send another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan, along with hundreds of civilian specialists, such as agricultural experts, educators and engineers. The fresh troops are in addition to another 17,000 the president announced earlier would be sent to Afghanistan, and will be charged with training and building the Afghan army and police force.

"What I will not do is to simply assume that more troops always results in an improved situation," the president said.

"Just because we needed to ramp up from the greatly under-resourced levels that we had doesn't automatically mean that if this strategy doesn't work, that what's needed is even more troops. There may be a point of diminishing returns in terms of troop levels."

Obama also indicated that while previous U.S. pledges to foster a more open, democratic regime in Afghanistan would not be abandoned, they would take a back seat to a mission more "narrowly targeted on defeating al Qaeda."

"The focus over the last seven years I think has been lost," Obama said. "What we want to do is to refocus attention on al Qaeda. We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack U.S. citizens, U.S. soil, U.S. interests, and our allies' interests around the world."

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Nameless

    I am sorry for the old ladies who voted for him just because they thought he would return all the troops home.

    March 29, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. solaykay

    I have been through a few presidents in my life and this is the first one whose every move is analysed for errors by individuals and their media. Does this guy have any chance at all to be human with mistakes? I wonder.

    March 29, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. service man

    As a member of the armed forces I have had several of my friends die in both iraq and afghanistan. Nobody wants to be here any more. Let the president tell us to come home. I'm done fighting this senseless war. Its a shame that the american public are afraid of cowards who live in caves.

    March 30, 2009 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
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