“Toughest decision was early in my presidency when I ordered 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan,” says President Barack Obama
AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: President Barack Obama in an interview on Sunday said that it was the hardest decision during his two terms of office to nod for a massive troop surge in Afghanistan.
“Toughest decision was early in my presidency when I ordered 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan,” Obama, who leaves office in less than two weeks, told ABC’s This Week.
After a protracted debate inside the administration that pitted US military commanders against White House advisers, Obama announced the 30,000-trooop “surge” in December 2009.
“I think it was the right decision because the Taliban at the point had gotten a lot of momentum before I’d gotten into office, partly because we hadn’t been paying attention so much as we needed to Afghanistan,” the president said.
However, the president hoped to withdraw most US military forces from Afghanistan by now, leaving behind just a small force.
Asked whether he found it disappointing that so many troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama said the United States is “not going to get the kind of decisive, permanent victories in this fight against terrorism that we would get from fighting another country.”
In Iraq, more than 5,000 US soldiers are still on the ground providing critical support to the country’s army, which is unable to man a war alone against the Islamic State group’s extremist fighters.
“But we don’t have this huge footprint, we are less likely to be targeted as, you know, occupiers,” he added about the reduced number of troops.
Even after decimating Al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas and killing the jihadist group’s leader Osama bin Laden, groups in the region still “have both the interest and the capacity if we don’t maintain vigilance to strike against the Unite States,” he said.
However, the US still has some 8,400 military personnel in the country, and announced Friday it is sending some 300 marines to Helmand province in the coming months.
A military website reported that the United States would deploy a new task force of around 300 soldiers to southern Helmand province
“US Central Command had requested the deployment,” the Stars and Stripes quoted 1st Lt. Katie Kochert, a spokeswoman for the Marine unit, as saying.
It is worth mentioning that the marines first entered Helmand province at the beginning of the war in 2001.