PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGY FOR PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN
27 Mar 09. CNN reports that President Obama — saying “the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks are in Pakistan and Afghanistan” — announced a “comprehensive” new strategy Friday confronting the growing threat in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.
President Obama announced new strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday. Obama said “situation is increasingly perilous” in the region and 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
“It’s an international security challenge of the highest order,” he said in an address at the executive office building. “The safety of people around the world is at stake.”
He called on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Richard Lugar authorizing “$1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years — resources that will build schools, roads, and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy.”
He is also urging Congress “to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued by violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part — including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month.”
Obama said he is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists. The troops — which are in addition to the 17,000 the president announced earlier would be sent to Afghanistan — will be charged with training and building the Afghan Army and police force.
“We will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country,” he said.
“For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. Those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. Later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan Security Forces.”
Obama said the coalition “will accelerate” efforts to “build an Afghan Army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 — and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward.”
Obama said Afghanistan’s government has been “undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people” and its economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency. ”
“To advance security, opportunity, and justice — not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces — we need agricultural specialists and educators; engineers and lawyers. That is how we can help the Afghan government serve its people, and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs. That is why I am ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground. And that is why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations — an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in the Hague.”