February 24, 2012 |
What is the logic behind the Obama administration's policy toward Afghanistan? On its face, it makes no sense. In 2009, President Obama ordered a major buildup of forces to counter alarming gains by the Taliban and the Haqqani network. The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan increased from 34,000 when he took office to nearly 100,000 in 2010. To oversee the buildup he sent two top Army generals, Stanley A. McChrystal and then David H. Petraeus, to design and implement a comprehensive counterinsurgency plan that the president signed off on. In June of last year, however, Obama announced that 32,000 "surge" troops would come home by September 2012 - earlier than Petraeus and his superiors judged prudent.
April 25, 2010 |
After a follower of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr vowed to dispatch militia members to defend Iraqi mosques in the wake of a series of deadly bombings, a statement from Sadr that was widely distributed Saturday made it clear that the Mahdi Army would be reactivated only if the government accepted the offer. The militia's fighters, who were involved in the bloody sectarian violence of Iraq's civil war, were demobilized in 2008 after major confrontations between Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government and the armed group.
March 11, 2010 |
Congressional opponents of the war in Afghanistan forced a debate Wednesday on the floor of the House of Representatives on a resolution to bring U.S. forces home and end the 8-year-old conflict. The measure ended up losing, 356 to 65, a margin that had been expected. Nonetheless, antiwar lawmakers welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued troop buildup in Afghanistan, and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating Al Qaeda, had been lost.
December 7, 2009 |
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied Sunday that President Obama had set an "exit strategy" for Afghanistan, and he forecast that only a "handful" of U.S. troops may leave the country in July 2011, when a withdrawal is due to begin. Gates, appearing on television news programs with other senior U.S. officials, said the Obama administration intended to maintain its commitment to Afghanistan while gradually shifting security responsibilities to the country's central government. "This is a transition," Gates said on ABC's "This Week."
December 4, 2009 |
It started out as a projection from the military, intended only for the ears of the president and his top advisors. But in a war council meeting at the White House less than a month ago, Obama proposed making it public. "Let's name that date," he said, according to participants. And then on Tuesday, he did. The date, July 2011, is when the Afghan troop buildup is supposed to be working well enough against the Taliban-led insurgency that some troops can start to come home.
June 6, 2009 |
When the combat outpost in northwest Baghdad known as Joint Security Station Hurriya 2 closes Sunday, it won't be a day too soon for the 180 or so U.S. soldiers based there. "There's not much to do around here, and we go stir-crazy sometimes," said Army Spc. Corey Hessler, 22, who is looking forward to the fast-food outlets and air-conditioned barracks that await him on the vast Camp Victory base beside Baghdad's airport.