President Obama says plans to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan next year haven't changed. In a letter to Congress attached to his semi-annual report on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama said progress in the country would allow the surge announced in December 2009 to come home.
NATO reports that violence in Afghanistan is on a slight downward trend. In the first eight months of 2011, attacks dropped 2 percent compared with a year earlier. Still, in June, some military commanders urged the president to keep troop numbers high in the 10-year-old war because recent gains are fragile.
Text of Obama's letter:
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THEHOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP, AND THE CHAIRMEN ANDRANKING MEMBERS OF HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEESSeptember 30, 2011Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)(Dear Mr. Leader:) (Dear Madam Leader:)(Dear Mr. Chairman) (Dear Madam Chairman:)(Dear Senator:) (Dear Representative:)In response to section 1117 of the Supplemental AppropriationsAct, 2009 (Public Law 111-32) (the "Act"), and in order to keepthe Congress fully informed, I am providing the attached reportrelated to Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the fourth reportsubmitted under section 1117 of the Act and follows the April2011 submission.This report covers the period from January 1, 2011, throughJune 30, 2011. To the extent possible, the report also providesan assessment through August 31, 2011. Events continue to evolvesince that time, for example in our relationship with Pakistan,but these developments fall outside the scope of this report.As I noted in my remarks on the way forward in Afghanistan onJune 22, we have seen great progress in our fight againstal-Qa'ida; we have reversed the Taliban's momentum inAfghanistan; and we continue to see progress in training theAfghan National Security Forces. This will allow us in thecoming year to fully recover the 33,000 U.S. troop surgeI announced at West Point in December 2009. Beyond that change,we continue to implement the strategy and do not believe furthermodifications or adjustments to the metrics, resources, orauthorities are required at this time. Huge challenges remain,and this is the beginning -- but not the end -- of our effortto wind down this war.As the Congress continues its deliberations on the way ahead inAfghanistan and Pakistan, I want to continue to underscore ourNation's interests in the successful implementation of thispolicy.Sincerely,BARACK OBAMA