Nation

State of the Union address | 9 p.m.

Obama to announce 34,000 troops to be home in one year

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will announce in his State of the Union address that 34,000 US troops will be home from Afghanistan within a year, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

That’s about half the US forces currently serving there, and marks the next phase in the administration’s plans to formally finish the war by the end of 2014. The US now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010.

Advertisement

The US is still finalizing plans for the size and scope of its military presence after the war ends. The White House has said it would be open to leaving no troops in Afghanistan, though it’s likely that a small presence will remain, in keeping with the Pentagon’s preferences.

Obama won’t announce troop numbers beyond 2014 in Tuesday’s speech and has not yet made that decision, said the official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the troop drawdown ahead of the president.

Get Breaking News in your inbox:
Find out about important news stories as soon as they break
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Obama discussed the next phases of the drawdown with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a day-long meeting in Washington last month, the first meeting between the two leaders since Obama’s re-election. The two leaders agreed to accelerate their timetable for putting Afghan forces in the lead combat role nationwide, moving that transition up from the summer to the spring.

Obama will announce the troop drawdown and the future of the US role in Afghanistan during a joint session of Congress that is otherwise expected to be dominated by the economy and other domestic issues.

Foreign policy has intruded in recent days, however, and the White House quickly condemned North Korea early Tuesday for its nuclear launch hours before Obama’s address. The president is expected to make further remarks on this in his primetime speech.

Advertisement

Some private security analysts, as well as some Pentagon officials, worry that pulling out of Afghanistan too quickly will leave the battle-scarred country vulnerable to collapse. In a worst-case scenario, that could allow the Taliban to regain power and revert to the role they played in the years before 9/11 as protectors of al-Qaida terrorists bent on striking the US

Many Americans, however, are weary of the war, according to public opinion polls, and are skeptical of any claim that Afghanistan is worth more US blood. Registered voters are roughly split between those who say the US should remove all troops and those who favor leaving some troops in place for counterterrorism efforts, according to a recent Fox News poll.

The Obama administration gave the first clear signal in early January that it might leave no troops in the country after December 2014. Administration officials have said they are considering a range of options for a residual US troop presence of as few as 3,000 and as many as 15,000, with the number linked to a specific set of military-related missions like hunting down terrorists.

Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.