NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An end to the war in Afghanistan is near.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared that two-thirds of U.S. troops will come home by the end of the year, and the military commitment to Afghanistan will end by 2016, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
After a secret visit overseas, President Obama said he intends to bring American troops home.
“The bottom line is it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said.
Click below to see the president’s full speech
Obama noted that when he took office there were about 180,000 American troops in harm’s way. He said that by the end of this year the 32,800 men and women in Afghanistan would be slashed by two-thirds.
By the end of 2016 there will be only 1,000 troops, and they will concentrate on training Afghan security forces and counterterrorism.
“We have to recognize that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one. The future of Afghanistan must be decided by Afghans,” the president said.
Under President Obama’s watch, the American government has mounted a robust war on terrorism, killing a number of al Qaeda members with drone attacks and famously sending in a team of Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden.
The White House made it clear that Afghanistan has made significant progress since American troops were first sent in:
* Its gross domestic product has grown an average of 9.4 percent a year
* Life expectancy has increased by 20 years
* There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Afghans with access to electricity
The president made it clear America will not give up its war on those who would harm Americans.
“In addition to bringing the troops home this new chapter in American foreign policy will allow us to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism, while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe,” Obama said.
The president’s drawdown plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bi-lateral security agreement with the United States, Kramer reported.
President Hamid Karzai has refused, but President Obama said the two candidates seeking to replace him in ongoing elections are supportive.
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