Obama announces bringing back of 34,000 troops from Afghanistan in State of Union address
London, Feb. 13 : President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of 34,000 US troops from Afghanistan over the next year in his first State of the Union address after winning re-election.
The move will cut the number of troops in the former haven for al-Qaeda to half, as the White House seeks to hasten the end of US involvement in an unpopular war.
The first hard numbers on the planned withdrawal of US forces from a combat role in Afghanistan emerged as Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to a US Congress that remains paralyzed with division on several key issues, including debt, climate change and gun control, the Telegraph reports.
The announcement comes after Britain has already announced plans to pull out 3,800 of its 9,000 troops by the end of this year and other NATO nations are well on their way to leaving completely, the report said.
According to the report, coalition generals have pushed to maintain existing troop levels throughout this year's so-called summer 'fighting season', resisting pressure for a faster drawdown from some civilian advisers in the Obama administration.
Analysts in Washington said that the deliberately vague timeline that Obama has set could allow him to finesse the underlying disagreement between the politicians and the generals.
The prospect of thousands of foreign troops withdrawing has terrified many Afghans who fear abandonment, a return to Taliban control, or a repeat of the 1990s civil war, the report said.
Aside from Afghanistan, Obama devoted a great majority of his speech to domestic affairs, particularly on re-building the US economy where growth remains sluggish and unemployment levels continue to linger around eight percent, it added.