US president Barack Obama announced a departure plan on Wednesday that will see 33,000 troops depart Afghanistan over 12 months and gradually end US military involvement in that war-torn country. Observers say the plan removes troops quicker than the military commanders appreciate and more slowly than his political allies would like.
In a televised address from the White House, the president said he will withdraw 10,000 troops by the end of the year and another 23,000 by next summer. The drawdown will conclude just two months before voters in the United States of America vote on a possible second term for the president or express their disenchantment with him and his party and hand the Republicans control of the White House.
Under the plan, the first troops will exit Afghanistan next month.
Expectedly, the announcement drew partisan support or criticism.
In a statement, Sen. Carl M Levin (Dem., Mich.), the chairman of the armed services committee, called the plan a ''positive development, although in my view the conditions on the ground justify an even larger drawdown of US troops.''
Sen. John McCain (Rep., Ariz.) said in a statement that he is ''concerned that the withdrawal plan that president Obama announced tonight poses an unnecessary risk to the hard-won gains that our troops have made thus far in Afghanistan and to the decisive progress that must still be made.''