U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered 30,000 more American troops to
Afghanistan to defeat Taliban and al-Qaida extremists and restore
stability to the war-torn country.
In a speech outlining his new war strategy Tuesday, President Obama said while Afghanistan is not lost, it has been moving backwards for several years. He warned that the common security of the world is at stake, with al-Qaida planning new terrorist attacks from its safe havens along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Mr. Obama told cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York that additional forces will help accelerate the transfer of responsibility to Afghan forces and allow U.S. troops to begin leaving the country by July 2011.
He said troops will focus on targeting the insurgency, securing key population centers and increasing the training of Afghan security forces.
The president also appealed to U.S. allies to contribute additional troops and resources.
The additional American forces will bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 100,000. There are also some 39,000 non-U.S troops serving under NATO.
Senior administration officials say all the U.S. forces will be in place in about six months. President Obama says the troop surge will cost about $30 billion in the coming year.
During Tuesday's speech, Mr. Obama said the United States has "no interest" in occupying Afghanistan and that its commitment is not "open-ended"
The president noted the U.S. will support Afghan ministries, governors and local leaders, but those officials who are found to be ineffective or corrupt must be held accountable.
Mr. Obama also addressed the volatile situation in Pakistan, saying that success in Afghanistan is "inextricably linked" to the U.S. partnership with Pakistan.
The Obama administration is struggling to counter declining U.S. public support and rising casualties in the eight-year war in Afghanistan.