President Obama gave a short speech today at Fort Drum in northern New York to thank the troops who fought in Afghanistan, saying the U.S. has turned a corner in the war and it’s time to return the troops home. He announced last night a plan to drawdown 33,000 troops by next summer.
It was the president’s fourth trip to upstate New York during his presidency. He has visited Schenectady, Troy and Buffalo.
Now, last night, I gave a speech in which I said that we have turned a corner where we can begin to bring back some of our troops. We’re not doing it precipitously. We’re going to do it in a steady way to make sure that the gains that all of you helped to bring about are going to be sustained. But because of your outstanding work, what we’ve been able to do is train an additional 100,000 Afghan soldiers so that they can start carrying on the fight,” the president said.
Because of what you’ve done, areas like Kandahar are more secure than they have been in years. Because of you, we’re now taking the fight to the Taliban instead of the Taliban bringing the fight to us. And because of you, there are signs that the Taliban may be interested in figuring out a political settlement, which ultimately is going to be critical for consolidating that country.
It’s also because of you that we had the platform to be able to go after bin Laden and al Qaeda. And we have decimated their ranks. Al Qaeda leadership — half of them have been killed, and most of them are now on the run and they can’t operate as effectively as they could. And so as I look around this room I suspect that some of you joined the military after 9/11 because you had seen fellow Americans suffer at the hands of bin Laden. And when we got them — when he got him — and as we keep on driving to get the rest of them, it’s because of the work and the sacrifice that you guys have made.