March 30th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

WH aide: July 2011 will be 'transition point'

Washington  — The Obama administration's announced date to begin to reverse its surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan is a "transition point" in the U.S. military presence in the country, a White House national security aide said Monday.

Denis McDonough, the chief of staff to President Obama's National Security Council, accompanied Obama over the weekend on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan. While there, Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and American troops at a U.S. base.

McDonough told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the administration's military plans in Afghanistan are on track.

"We're just so excited and so proud of all that's happening there," McDonough said on CNN's The Situation Room. "The surge is, in fact, on target. There's about 10,000 of our guys there. We're going to - there are obviously - the president ordered an additional 30,000 there. And that surge then will continue through the course of this year, into the summer of 2011."

McDonough called the July 2011 date set by Obama to begin to draw down the additional troops "a transition point."

"But this is not going to be the end of our effort there," he said. "We have set that target as a time to draw those troops down. But the pace of that withdrawal will be determined by the situation on the ground."

Obama's surprise weekend trip to Afghanistan was his first since taking office. He previously visited the country during his presidential campaign.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. t.e.

    Scott- Afghanistan is in the middle east. Many geographers argue the middle east also includes North Africa, so don't be hypocritical with your judgment. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East.

    The surge is working, yes, but for how long. Once we pull out, that will be the true testament. Iraq and Afghanistan are ill-equipped to handle their own governance, and the house of cards we built over there (security) will come crashing down when we leave. Terrorists are just biding their time in Pakistan waiting for us to go. And Iran? They're going nuclear- how does that create stability in the region? There are too many fights for America to fight, and the longer this war goes on, the war against terror, the more and more we see us standing alone. Most other countries are starting to pull what little troops they have in the region out. I love our troops, they do a phenomenal job, I see it daily. But I want to see that what my husband is fighting for, what he and I are sacrificing, is worth it.

    May 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    A.Smith, you say the thousands of US military vehicles and ammo that LIKELY going to be left. What makes you think that the US military would leave anything unattended once withdrawal begins? Why would we the United States want to "sign up" to aide enemy forces in future attacks with our own equipment? Good call...

    April 10, 2010 at 6:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    Given the new 700 US military bases and the thousands of US military vehicles and ammo that is likely going to be left in Afghanistan as the US military pulls out of Afghanistan, the Taliban camped across the border in Pakistan is coming home to new bases, new supplys and much better off than ever before.

    April 1, 2010 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    Rick I suggest you buy yourself a map because Afghanistan is a a long ways from the Middle East. As stated by this WH aide, we are not leaving in July 2011, but merely transitioning from one objective to another. Our window to strike a decisive blow to the Taliban is over the next year or so. After that, we will transition to a larger nation-building role and test the fortitude of the Afghan government. Lets hope that we are able to assist in winning the peace after 2011 with less bullets and more schools, hospitals and businesses.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. D^2

    Iraq Paramedic: The Taliban did not exist as an organization during the Soviet occupation, and it was the Soviets, but your points are well taken.

    March 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    I recently got news from my brother-in-law, who will be deployed to help with the situation in Afghanistan. my comment: "How many times will our loved ones be called upon to help in crisis situations when alot have given so much already, i fear that one of these times, my husband will get the frightening call that so many have/did dread when their loved one left. How much is enough? What about our own country's current crisis, why can't we help/fix ourselves first?????

    March 30, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. Iraq Paramedic

    Bad mistake telling the enemy when your going to leave. The taliban waited out the Russians for 10 years & they have dodged all of us for 9 years so far, a couple more will not make them much differance. Obama made a good choice sending extra personnel but a bad mistake publically setting a withdrawal date. May GOD Bless & keep us all!!!!!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. hhhhhh

    hollo i pray that god will help obama to win this war

    March 30, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Those who think the wars in the middle east will eventually end, are true optimists, with rose colored glasses.

    March 30, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |