Obama Reveals U.S. Plans for Afghanistan After 2014

In a Rose Garden speech, the president lays out troop levels after the drawdown.
15:34 | 05/27/14

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Transcript for Obama Reveals U.S. Plans for Afghanistan After 2014
This is an ABC news. George Stephanopoulos. Good afternoon we're coming -- the -- because President Obama is about to announce how he plans and America's longest war. Almost thirteen years after the September 11 attacks that sparked America's military effort in Afghanistan. There are still more than 32000. US troops in that country. Down from peak of 100000 troops in 2010. The president expected to -- a plan -- bring that number below 101000 next year. Eliminate all US combat troops by the time he set to leave office in 2016. This announcement comes after the -- surprises to Afghanistan this weekend where he marked Memorial Day with the US troops in programme air force base. He thanked the troops for their service saying the American people stand in all you. It has been an extensive and exhausting effort just look at the numbers. More than 800000. US service members -- served in Afghanistan. More than 2000 killed almost 20000 wounded. Into school affairs anchor Martha Raddatz has been to Afghanistan dozens of times she's -- working -- sources the Pentagon today. And -- the announcement from the president is pretty much in line with -- military commanders want it. It is George they -- at about ten to 121000. US troops remaining they get nine 800 in different areas of Afghanistan -- it's about 200 shy of what they wanted. And their hopeful that NATO will fill in the extra a couple of thousand. In the coming months but this will be a very very rapid draw down in the next year. It this summer I think you'll see the bulk of those 3200 coming out by the end of the year down to that 9800. Number. Of US troops there and hopefully some NATO troops will join as well. This plan is also continued on the US citing security agreement with the government of Afghanistan the current president. Hamid Karzai has resisted that -- both candidates in the current election has said they will sign the agreement. Here comes the president now. -- -- -- -- As you know this weekend I traveled to Afghanistan to thank our men and women in uniform and I -- -- civilians. On behalf of a grateful nation. For of the extraordinary sacrifices they make on behalf of our security. I was also able to meet what are commanding general and ambassador to review the progress that we've made. It's -- like to update the American people on the way forward in Afghanistan. And how this year. We will bring America's longest war to a responsible and the United States. Did not seek this fight. We went into Afghanistan. Out of necessity after our nation was attacked by al-Qaeda. On September 11 2001. We want to war against al-Qaeda and its extremist allies with the strong support of the American people and their representatives in congress. With the international community and our NATO allies. And with the Afghan people. Who welcomed the opportunity of a life free from the dark tyranny of extremist. We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected. To make no mistake. Thanks to the skill. And sacrifice of our troops. Diplomats and intelligence professionals we have struck significant blows against Al qaeda's leadership. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. We prevented Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our home. We've also supported the Afghan people as they continue the hard work of building a democracy. We've extended more opportunities to -- people including women and girls. And we've helped train and equip their own security forces. Now we're finishing the job we started. Over the last several years. We've worked to transition security responsibilities. To the Afghans. One year ago Afghan forces assumed the lead for combat operations. Since then they've continued to grow in size and in strike while making huge sacrifices. For their country. This transition has allowed us to steadily draw down our own forces. From a peak of a 100000 US troops. To roughly 32000 today. 2014. Therefore is a pivotal year. Together -- our allies and the Afghan government we have agreed that this is the year we will conclude. Our combat mission in Afghanistan. This is also -- a political transition in Afghanistan. Earlier this spring Afghans turned out in the millions to vote in the first round of their presidential election. Defying threats. In -- determine their own -- And in just over two weeks there will vote for their next president. And Afghanistan will see its first democratic transfer of power in history. In the context of this progress having consulted with congress and my national security team. I've determined the nature of the commitment that Americans -- to make beyond that point porting. Our objectives are clear. Disrupting threats posed by al-Qaeda. Supporting. Afghan security forces. And giving the Afghan people the opportunity to succeed as they stand on our -- Here's how will pursue those objectives. First. America's combat mission will be over by the end of this year. Starting next year Afghans will be fully responsible for securing. Their country. American personnel will be in an advisory role we will no longer patrol Afghan cities or towns. Mountains or valleys. That is a task. For the Afghan people. Second. I've made it clear that were open to cooperating with the Afghans on too -- missions after 2014. Training Afghan forces. And supporting counter terrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda. Today I want to be clear about how the United States is prepared to advance those missions. And the beginning of -- -- fifty. We will have approximately 98000. US. -- me start that over. Just as I want to make sure we don't get -- written wrong. At the beginning of -- fifty. We will have. Approximately 9800. 9800. US service members in different parts of the country. Together whether -- NATO allies and other Parker's. By the end of 2050. We will have reduced that presence by roughly half. And we'll have consolidated our troops in Kabul. And on -- -- field. One year later. -- the end of -- sixteen. Our military it will draw down -- a normal embassy presence in Kabul. Where they security assistance component just as we've done in Iraq. Even as our troops come home. The international community will continue to support Afghans -- build their country for years to come. But our relationship will not be defined by war. You'll be shaped by our financial and development assistance as well as our diplomatic support. Our commitment to Afghanistan. Is rooted in the strategic partnership that we agreed to in 2012 and this plan remains consistent -- discussions we've had. -- -- -- -- Just as our allies have been with us every step of the way in Afghanistan. We expect our allies will be with us going for. -- We will only sustain this military presence after 24 team if the Afghan government signs the bilateral security agreement that -- two governments have already negotiated. This agreement is essential to give our troops the authorities they need to fulfill their mission. While respecting Afghan sovereignty. The two final Afghan candidates in the runoff election for president at each indicated. That they would sign this agreement promptly after taking office. So I'm hopeful that we can get this done. The bottom line is. It's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy. Was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When I took office. We had nearly a 180000. Troops in harm's way. By the end of this year. We will have less than 101000. In addition to bring our troops home this new chapter in American foreign policy will allow us. To re direct some of the resources saved by ending these wars. To respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism. While addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe. I think Americans have learned that it's. Harder to end wars -- to begin. If this is how wars and 120% for. -- through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries. Transitions to elected governments. Security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility. We remain committed to a sovereign. Secure. Stable and unified Afghanistan. And toward that end we will continue to support Afghan led efforts to promote peace in their country to reconciliation. We have to recognize Afghanistan will not be a perfect place. And it is not America's responsibility to make it one. The future of Afghanistan must be decided by Afghans. What the United States candor. What we will do it. To secure our interests and help give the Afghans the chance and opportunity. To seek a long overdue and harder and peace. America will always keep our commitments to friends and partners who step up and we will never waver. In our determination to deny al-Qaeda the safe haven that they had before not a lot. That commitment is embodied by the men and women in and out of uniform who serve in Afghanistan today. And who have served in the past. In their eyes I see the character the sustains American security. And our leadership abroad. These are mostly young people who did not hesitate to volunteer at a time of war. And as many of them begin to transition to civilian life we will keep the promise we make to them and all veterans. And make sure they get the care and benefits that they have earned and deserve. This 9/11 generations part of an unbroken line. Of heroes who give up the comfort of the familiar to serve. -- half a world away. To protect their families and communities back home and to give people they never thought they'd meet. The chance to live a better life. It is an extraordinary sacrifice. For them and -- families. But we shouldn't be surprised that there want to make it. That's who we are as Americans. That's what we do. Tomorrow traveled to West Point and -- America's newest class of military officers. To discuss how Afghanistan fits into our broader strategy going forward. And I'm confident that if we carry out this approach. We can. Not only responsibly and our war in Afghanistan and achieve the objectives that took us to war in the first place. Will also be able to begin a new chapter in the story of American leadership. Around the world. Thanks very much. President Obama in the Rose Garden announcing how America will end its war in Afghanistan. He calls 2014. A pivotal -- saying this is the year that American combat operations will -- in -- laid out a timeline. For -- the US troops will be reduced to see -- by early 2015. We go from 32002. -- 9800 troops. Down to 5000 by the end of 2015. And then the end of 2016. They'll be -- tell them and -- thousand use traditional variety embassy and security detail. In that kind showing that -- Jon Karl. In the Rose Garden right now of course Jon -- this is all contingent as the president said. On the US signing a bilateral security agreement with the Afghans the United States thinks that will happen both presidential candidates are for but there have to be some fallback plans. There's no question about that -- -- that's an agreement that Hamid Karzai the -- president of Afghanistan has refused to sign. So if something were to happen to disrupt that election to -- -- that are being a transition of power or one of the of the final candidate. I'm not signing it there is a contingency plan it's called zero option and to -- the plan to remove all US forces out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. You've heard from the president known -- day. If that security agreement is not -- so it all depends on an agreement beings and. -- is -- details leaked out Jon Karl there already are some there already is some criticism. From Republicans and house and senate that's right first. The president did get a voice of support from speaker John Boehner saying he was glad the president was keeping -- US presence in Afghanistan into next year. But Boehner said it was wrong to put the number on it to find here in Washington. They should be based on contingent on conditions on the ground and Lindsey Graham us -- -- -- Republican senator on this. To the putting a final date 2016 for withdrawing all forces would embolden the enemy -- -- some Republican criticism but some support comes. And Martha Raddatz the president laying -- a pretty limited mission to train Afghan forces also. To conduct counterterrorism. Operations what are the concerns here is that we might see -- kind of flare up of violence as we've seen in Iraq since US troops have left. Well but we have to remember there are no US troops in Iraq and that was one of the problems there they never got that bilateral security agreement so all US forces left we certainly have an embassy prisons. And and some troops within that embassy but they've had an absolute flare up of -- -- I was in Iraq I was there several months ago there were bombings suicide bombings. All the time there is concern in Afghanistan but that's why the military is pleased that they will have a substantial presence. Okay thank you both very much much more tonight on world news and Diane sorry didn't give details anytime. And abcnews.com I'm George Stephanopoulos in New York have a good day. This has been a special room.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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