Obama to keep troops in Afghanistan



U.S. President Barack Obama announces he will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017 as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden looks on in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Ron Sachs/Sipa USA/TNS)

Tanya Raghu


By Tanya Raghu
Staff Writer


Last week, President Barack Obama announced his decision to keep 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan until 2017, bringing sadness and grief to thousands of Americans hearts in the United States and abroad in Afghanistan.


The president’s announcement is a reversal from his past statements, inevitably creating heavy criticism from Republicans and anti-war protestors.


“While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” Obama said on Thursday, during a statement from the Roosevelt Room in the White House.


Obama’s decision is intended to keep the American people safe. With the Islamic State (ISIS), Al Qaeda, and militant groups on the rise and spreading terror in the recent months, Obama is not ready to bring America’s troops home.


“I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again,” Obama said.


Even after 14 years of fighting and $65 billion spent on strengthening Afghan forces, the Obama Administration still does not think Afghans alone are strong enough to keep the Taliban away from seizing power.


According to the United Nations, the Taliban is more spread out across Afghanistan than it has ever been since 2001, and recently even seized the Afghan city of Kunduz.


President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has also requested Obama to keep troops in Afghanistan as he is afraid for potential political turmoil.


“…[keeping the troops] ensures that the Afghan security forces are much better led, equipped, trained, and are focused on their fundamental mission,” Ghani said on his visit to the U.S. Pentagon on April 1.


After the United States withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011, it caused political instability and major violent activity, something Obama is not willing to risk with the possible rise of the Taliban.


Many opposers argue American troops are having to battle an issue that is not their own.


In response, “Every single day, Afghan forces are out there fighting and dying to protect their country,” Obama said. “They’re not looking for us to do it for them,”


American troops are not directly fighting the Taliban as an American would think but instead training local Afghans to fight, showing them how to use weapons and going on missions to find wanted militants.


The decision to keep the troops in Afghanistan or bring them home will be up to Obama’s successor in 2018. Until then 9,800 American troops will remain in Afghanistan.