Barack Obama on The War in Afghanistan

Last Updated : Mar 04, 2011


In 2007, Senator Obama gave a major address and outlined his views on the war in Afghanistan. In that speech he contrasted the war there with the war in Iraq, noting that he supported the war in afghanistan from the start and opposed the war in Iraq. He stated that the war in Afghanistan was a war we need to win and outlined a five point strategy:

  • getting out of Iraq and into Afghanistan
  • developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons
  • engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism
  • restoring our values
  • securing a more resilient homeland

These basic premises was carried throughout the campaign. Senator Obama repeated in speeches, debates, and campaign events that the war in Afghanistan was a just war and needed to be won. He stated that the at least two additional brigades were needed in Afghanistan and a large increase in civilian help and infrastructure building was needed.

Senator Obama continually linked Afghanistan with Pakistan during the campaign. He repeatedly asserted that the safe have in Pakistan for our enemy was preventing a victory in Afghanistan. He stated that if targets were available in Pakistan and the Pakistani government was unwilling to react, he would move as President to destroy those assets.

In February of 2009, President Obama announced that an additional two brigades would be going to Afghanistan. A month after that, President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

  • An Attainable Objective
    • disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens
  • A Regional Approach
    • view Pakistan and Afghanistan as the same area
  • Building Capacity and More Training
    • deploy approximately 4,000 more U.S. troops to train the Afghan National Security Forces (17000 already deployed)
  • Using All Elements of National Power
    • State Department and foreign assistance programs
  • Bringing new international elements to the effort
    • forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan that brings together all who should have a stake in the security of the region

After this new strategy was announced, several months passed with no action. In September of 2009, President Obama responded to criticism about inaction by stating that a plan was being developed and that no action would be taken until the plan was finished.

In December of 2009, President Obama gave a speech at the West Point Academy and outlined the plan for a surge in Afghanistan. The plan included an additional 30,000 troops along with increased funding and civilian support. The President also announced that troops would begin to withdraw from the region 18 months later - in July of 2011.

In the 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama hailed the progress in Afghanistan and noted that the troops there were denying the terrorists a launching pad.


The War We Need to Win

In August of 2007, Senator Obama spoke at the Wilson Center in D.C. and gave a speech that highlighted his views on Afghanistan that would be echoed throughout the campaign.


Plan for Afghanistan

On July 15, 2008, Senator Obama gave a policy address at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C.. In that speech, he stated that he would send at least an additional two brigades there. Senator Obama also stated that he would pursue targets in Pakistan if the government would not do so.


Trip to Afghanistan

Days after this speech at the Wilson Center, Senator Obama took a trip to Afghanistan and appeared on face the nation to speak about the situation in Afghanistan and the need for the Afghani government to do more.


President Bush's Plan Not Enough

In September of 2008, Senator Obama spoke about a recent announcement by President Bush to redeploy some troops from Iraq and send them into Afghanistan. He stated that this plan was not enough.


First Debate on Afghanistan


Second Debate on Afghanistan


A New Direction in Pakistan and Afghanistan

In February of 2009, President Obama announced that he was sending additional brigades into Afghanistan.

On March 27, 2009 President Obama announced his new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This new strategy included efforts to ensure that the two nations do not become a safe haven for terrorists. The President called for funding for a large increase in civilians on the ground. He also noted that a set of benchmarks needed to be set and met so that the US was not there indefinitely. The President also noted that an additional 4000 troops would be sent to Afghanistan by the spring.

In a statement concerning the new strategy that was released the same day, the President outlined the differences in the new strategy.


No Immediate Decision

In September of 2009, President Obama spoke at a press conference about the need to plan that he and his administration would not be making any immediate decisions on further troops in Afghanistan.


The Way Forward - The Afghanistan Surge

On December 1, 2009 President Obama addressed the cadets at West Point and outlined his policy to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in a surge to reduce violence and control the nation. At the same time, the President stated that he was placing a deadline on how long troops would remain there and stated the troops would begin to be withdrawn within 18 months. The full address can be seen here. Shortly after that speech at West Point, the White House released a 4 minute summary that showed the highlights of the Presidents plan.


State of the Union Address

In his January of 2011 address, President Obama spoke about the war in Afghanistan and the need for the Afghan government to do more to deliver better governance. He also spoke about the troops coming home in July.



Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.


[1] Website: CNN Article: Obama calls situation in Afghanistan 'urgent' Author: Author Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[2] Website: USA Today Article: Obama begins planning Afghanistan pull-out Author: David Jackson Accessed on: 03/04/2011

[3] Website: Article: Remarks of Senator Obama: The War We Need to Win Author: Barack Obama Accessed on: 03/04/2011

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