Political News

Obama: Taliban, al-Qaida must be stopped

Posted March 27, 2009

— President Barack Obama on Friday ordered 4,000 more military troops into Afghanistan, vowing to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" the terrorist al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

The 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Combat Brigade Team has been ramping up training in recent weeks to prepare for deployment, but Fort Bragg officials declined to confirm Friday whether any 82nd Airborne troops would be part of the additional deployment Obama ordered.

Fort Bragg Sign Are Bragg troops heading to Afghanistan?

"The Department of Defense has not made a decision on what units will deploy to support the mission in Afghanistan," 82nd Airborne spokesman Lt. Col. Clarence Counts said in an e-mail to WRAL News. "Our paratroopers maintain a high state of combat readiness and are trained and prepared to deploy when the nation calls."

In addition to the 4th Brigade Combat Team's training, other signs pointed to the likelihood that Fort Bragg troops would be part of the Afghanistan plan. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team is commonly referred to as a "global response force," and some soldiers in the 1st Brigade Combat Team have heard rumors that they could be diverted to Afghanistan from a planned Iraq deployment this summer.

A source in the Pentagon told The Fayetteville Observer that Fort Bragg troops would be the backbone of Obama's plan, working in 10- to 14-person advisory teams to train and assist the Afghan National Army.

In a war that still has no end in sight, the president said the fresh infusion of U.S. forces is designed to bolster the Afghan army and turn up the heat on terrorists that he said are plotting new attacks against Americans. The plan takes aim at terrorist havens in Pakistan and challenges the government there and in Afghanistan to show more results.

Obama called the situation in the region "increasingly perilous" more than seven years after the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan.

"If the Afghanistan government falls to the Taliban or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged," Obama said, "that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."

He announced the troop deployment, as well as plans to send hundreds of additional civilians to Afghanistan, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top intelligence and national security figures at his side. The announcement followed a policy review Obama launched not long after taking the oath of office.

The 4,000 troops come not long after the new administration approved the dispatch of an additional 17,000 forces to the war-weary nation.

There are clear risks and costs to Obama's strategy.

Violence is rising. The war in Afghanistan saw American military deaths rise by 35 percent in 2008 as Islamic extremists shifted their focus to a new front with the West. Obama's plan will also cost many more billions of dollars.

And the president's plan includes no time line for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Yet Obama bluntly warned that the al-Qaida terrorists who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were actively planning further attacks on the United States from safe havens in Pakistan. And he said the Afghanistan government is in peril of falling to the Islamic militants of the Taliban once again.

"I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future," the president said.

"That is the goal that must be achieved," Obama added. "That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you."

Obama's plan will put more U.S. troops and money on the line. He said Pakistan and Afghanistan will be held to account, using benchmarks for progress.

The president spoke just hours after a suicide bomber in Pakistan demolished a mosque packed with hundreds of worshipers attending Friday prayers near the Afghan border, killing at least 48 people and injuring scores more, in the bloodiest attack in Pakistan this year. Rising violence in Pakistan is fueling doubts about the pro-Western government's ability to counter Taliban and al-Qaida militants also blamed for attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan.

Obama called the mountainous border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan "the most dangerous place in the world."

"This is not simply an American problem - far from it," Obama said. "It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order. Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al-Qaida and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and Kabul. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it, too, is likely to have ties to al-Qaida's leadership in Pakistan."

The president added: "The safety of people around the world is at stake."

The strategy fits with Obama's operating premise - that the U.S. failed mightily in the years following the Sept. 11 terror attacks by focusing on Iraq instead of Afghanistan. He send he is sending in the 4,000 military trainers after military commanders watched their demand for such help go unmet for years.

His moves comes ahead of a U.N. conference on Afghanistan next Tuesday in The Hague, where Clinton will join representatives from more than 80 countries. And Obama himself is attending a NATO meeting next week in France and Germany.

At that meeting, the U.S. expects some NATO coalition members to commit more forces to the flagging war in Afghanistan, Obama officials said Thursday. They did not get specific.

Roughly 65,000 international forces are in Afghanistan, more than half from the U.S.

One part of Obama's plan is to expose fractures in the Taliban in hopes of weakening it.

Administration officials say the most difficult part of their approach will be in dealing with Pakistan, an often chaotic place with an erratic relationship with the United States. The administration will seek to bolster the democratic government of Pakistan, and try to get the people of that country to see the U.S.-led effort as one that is in their interests.

Obama also will call for increasing aid to Pakistan as long as its leaders confront militants in the border region. The president will work with Congress on language to attach conditions to military aid, sources said.

The U.S. will launch an intensive and expanded diplomatic effort to gain international cooperation, including reaching out to Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and even Iran.

The 4,000 military trainers that Obama is sending to Afghanistan will come from 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. All of the troops he is dispatching to Afghanistan, including the combat troops, will be there by fall.

Obama's plan does not send in more combat troops, for now. Military commanders say they think more such forces will be needed.

191 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Shadow213 Mar 30, 2009

    "buying out" the taliban or al qaeda is clearly a stupid idea and i would hope we're not stupid enough to do that. we're not trying to beat a "governement" here, it's a religious mindset. a good analogy would be offering evangelists money to stop believing in evangelism. yeah right.

  • slick rick da troll whisperer Mar 27, 2009

    "Lizard wrote "Did Al-Queada declare war on us?"

    actually yes...in 1996. remember there attacks in 2001?

    i am glad to see obama living up to his promise of increasing our focus on al qaeda and afghanistan. afghanistan is the heart of the war on terror...not iraq like a lot of people seem to think. glad to see we are getting back to it like we should have been all along.

  • blueridgerunner Mar 27, 2009

    We are circling the drain. How do I know this? Because I'm sitting here on my as_ responding to this inane chatter, when I should be out making a difference to the people next door. Better learn to speak mandarin because they own us. Better get use to having other countries dictate how we govern ourselves because that's coming too. I hope BO is the man some of you truly believe he is... because he, and Pelosi and Reid and the Congress are carving us up and feeding us to world bit by bit. We won't have a pot to pee in soon. So, I better get moving now before it's too late.

  • workingforthosethatwont Mar 27, 2009

    Bombs, missiles and explosives from far away do not risk American Soldiers lives. Drop the big one and get it over with.
    And stop obamba to....he's slowly sending this country down the tubes.

  • gvmntcheese Mar 27, 2009

    OK, who the heck let Bush back in the White House? "The Obama Deception" Own It Today! www.infowars.com

  • blueridgerunner Mar 27, 2009

    Obama, Taliban, al-Qaida must be stopped.

  • Ripcord Mar 27, 2009

    "Which begs the question if the "surge" was a military victory or did we just buy our way out of trouble? And what happens when the payments stop? Chaos?"

    The surge was a multipronged effort: Part military, part social, part economic and part political. We did much more than simply 'buy our way out of trouble'. No one can deny that it was a success. The facts on the ground speak for themselves.

    As for stopping payments... Read the link I posted in my last post (that you responded to.) We ALREADY stopped paying the Sons Of Iraq (former insurgents). The Iraqi gov't picks up the tab starting April 1. And much more than merely paying them is being done. Jobs and training are being found for those that don't join the military of police.

  • oldfirehorse Mar 27, 2009

    send bombs, not troops

  • Conservative Mar 27, 2009

    "Taliban, Afghanistn, Uzbekistan...I just can stand it no more istan!"

    Iin that case you need to read "Londonistan" written by Melanie Philips where she chronicles the slow and steady Islamization of London!

  • MyNameIsMud Mar 27, 2009

    "Will it continue to work once we stop paying the Iraq CLCs to fight for us instead of shooting at us?

    ----Actually, the Iraqi gov't will take over all payments to the SOI on April 1."

    Which begs the question if the "surge" was a military victory or did we just buy our way out of trouble? And what happens when the payments stop? Chaos?

More...