November 13th, 2009
12:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama: Decision on U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan 'soon'

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) - President Barack Obama, who is weighing whether or how much to boost U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, said his decision will come "soon."

"It's a matter of making certain that when I send young men and women into war, and I devote billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money, that it's making us safer," Obama said at a joint news conference in Tokyo with recently elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

A primary goal, he said, is to be sure that the United States and its allies are not subject to terror attacks.

"The decision will be made soon. It will be one that is fully transparent so that the American people understand exactly what we're doing and why we're doing it and what it will entail," Obama said in response to a question.

"It will also, I think, send a clear message that our goal here ultimately has to be for the Afghan people to be able to be in a position to
provide their own security and that the United States cannot be engaged in an open-ended commitment," he added.

With nearly 65,000 troops, the United States has the highest contribution to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in Afghanistan. Britain is second with 9,000.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday he believes his country can persuade NATO allies and other nations to send another 5,000 troops to Afghanistan.

British officials are visiting other nations, trying to persuade them to send more troops, mainly to more intensively train Afghan soldiers so they eventually can protect their own country, Brown said in an interview with BBC Radio.

"I have taken the responsibility of asking others in Europe and outside Europe, actually, will they back this strategy, which is partnering with the Afghan forces, mentoring the Afghan forces. That is going to be where a lot of the military effort will be in the next period of time," he said.

"We (Britain) are prepared to put more troops into Afghanistan, but there has got to be burden-sharing amongst the alliance."

Brown agreed with Obama that training the Afghan forces so they can protect their own country seems to be the best strategy in dealing with the militants who are using guerrilla warfare to fight ISAF, Brown added.

On Wednesday, Obama told his war council that the U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan is not open-ended, and asked for revisions to options he previously received for sending more troops, a senior administration official told CNN.

The war council - composed of top Cabinet, Pentagon and administration officials - met with Obama for the eighth time to discuss a request by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan for up to 40,000 more troops. The meeting lasted more than two hours, according to the senior administration official.

"The president and his team discussed the length of time that it would take to implement the options he's been presented," the senior official said.

In particular, Obama pushed for revisions in proposed plans for troop increases to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, the official said.

Earlier, a senior administration official and a U.S. military official independently told CNN that one option presented to Obama calls for sending about 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 68,000 already committed to the country.

Germany's Defense Ministry announced Friday that nation will send 100 more troops to Afghanistan to help with reconstruction efforts in the war-ravaged nation.

The troops, to be deployed in mid-January, will join about 4,000 ISAF troops stationed in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, a ministry spokesman said.

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Voice From NY

    Yeah folks, it would be MUCH better if he just made a quick, thoughtless decision to placate his base and then land on an aircraft carrier declaring "Mission Accomplished". Oh wait...

    Back off, Quickdraw McGraws. This is war. This is American life. Exhale.

    November 13, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Vietnam Combat Veteran, Ohio

    Bring em Home Obama! Waste no more of our service personel.

    November 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. LacrosseSon

    "Soon" meaning after the Taliban have a stronger foothold, after al Queda moves back in, so even MORE troops get killed fighting terrorism?

    The problem is he has surrounded himself with people that have ZERO foreign policy experience.

    How's they search for bin Laden going, hmmm?

    P.S. My mom is an idiot.

    November 13, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. coreywalker

    so glad he don't think like bush or cheney.

    November 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Danny

    LacrosseDad you are an idiot. The decision to send more troops into danger should never be made lightly. Making an informed decision after weighing all of your options is the only way to proceed when American lives are at stake.

    November 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. southerncousin

    Actually, although I disagree with this man on almost everything, I appreciate the time he is taking to make sure he gets this right. I just hope that the final decision doesn't reflect some left wing, stupid ideal and that he does what is right for our brave men and women in uniform. If he does, I will at least gain a modicum of respect (right now I have absolutely none), if he doesn't, then it will be more excuse to utilize all of the resources I have to make sure this man is not our president in February, 2013.

    November 13, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  7. Wade

    As my father always said... "Lead, Follow or get out of the way".
    This is not a difficult decision. Either fight the war properly or get the hell out now.
    Playing politics while our soldiers are in need of reinforcements is bordering on criminal.
    Bush drug his but on this war and now Obama is following suit.

    November 13, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Mike in MN

    Did Obama say transparent again? I do not think he knows what that word means. My guess is he will try and delay until there is a Senate vote on health care. He may eventually have to decide before then as the Senate Health care may not come for a long time.

    November 13, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Adalbert

    Bring them home Mr. President. We are just wasting our troops and our money in Afghanistan.

    November 13, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Susan

    I am glad he takes the disability and death of our soldiers seriously instead of just deciding by his gut like Bush did, with no regard for facts or differing points of view.

    America has forgotten what it is like to have a responsible, thoughtful president.

    November 13, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. diridi

    do not send any more troops to Afganistan...nor Iraq...Bush the biggest Idiot did enough...involve in south asia nations....fix our health care with public option...competetion needs public option....

    November 13, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Danny

    Wow a president that actually thinks about a decision, especially one that could be sending American troops to their deaths, before making it...what a concept.

    November 13, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. Bob in Pa

    This will be transparent ? What so you can tell the Taliban up front that they need to go into hiding. Be your title BO – Commander In Chief ! Formulate a stratagy with your Generals, implement it, finish the job, then come back and be transparent.

    November 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. pc

    President Obama, please bring our troops home. America is tired of war. "America can't fix everything." Thank you!

    November 13, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. JDD

    Usually, when you see a new news article, that means there is something new or that something's changed.

    November 13, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Carlos

    He's waiting on Rahm and David to tell him what to do.

    November 13, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Thank you President Obama

    I am grateful that this is being considered carefully, unlike GWB's last 2 wars. Just hope the prez comes up with the right answer, which is to get the h#$% out.

    November 13, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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