A soldier’s point of view on troop drawdown in Afghanistan

Some 250 Delaware National Guardsmen are serving in Afghanistan, contributing to the current estimate of U.S. forces deployed there – about 100-thousand.

But in his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Obama announced a drawdown of 10-thousand troops by the end of this year, a total of 33-thousand by next summer, with a complete withdrawal by 2014.

“I commend the President for setting measured and reasonable withdrawal goals that will not undermine the significant progress our brave service members have made in Afghanistan over the past year,” said Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware).

The announcement fulfills the President’s 2009 promise to start withdrawing troops by July.

“I don’t think [President Obama] was entirely honest. And I don’t fault one political party for that. I think that every politician is deliberately vague,” said one active duty Army soldier, who asked to remain nameless.

He argues 30-thousand is not much of a withdrawal since it only covers the surge the President ordered a year-and-a-half ago, leaving the original 70-thousand U.S. forces who’ve been rotating to and from Afghanistan since 2001.

“We do not have the will, politically or emotionally, to really do what has to be done… You can’t fight for a country when its own people won’t fight for it… If you’re of the attitude that we want to win, then we need more troops and we need to be a lot more aggressive. However, if you want to do any less than that, we need to pull everyone out and go home,” said the soldier.

With 17 years of service under his belt, and three 12 to 15 month-long deployments in five years, the soldier we spoke with is only three years away from retirement. However, he is confident he and his family will have to tough out yet another deployment despite Wednesday’s announcement.

“You can take 30-thousand troops, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Okay, what kind of troops are we removing?… I mean, if I don’t redeploy, that’s great, but we’re mentally prepared and emotionally prepared that I will have to do another one.”

As for the remaining 70-thousand forces in Afghanistan, the withdrawal schedule could be decided next May when the President hosts a summit in Chicago with NATO allies.

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