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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 9:55pm
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- President Obama addressed the nation Wednesday, and announced a plan to bring home almost 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by next summer.
Obama said the reduction marks the beginning of the end if the United States' mission in Afghanistan.
"Starting next month, we will be able to remove 10-thousand of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year," Obama said in his address, "and we will bring home a total of 33-thousand troops by next summer....After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace, as Afghan security forces move in to the lead.
"Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete. And the Afghan people will be responsible their own security.
"Al Qaeda remains dangerous and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat. And we will not relent until the job is done.
"Of course, huge challenges remain.
This is the beginning, but not the end of our effort to wind down this war. We'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government.
"America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home. In this effort we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.
To our troops, our veterans, and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you and provide you with the care and the benefits and opportunity that you deserve. "
Despite the withdrawal, the United States will still have nearly twice as many forces in the Afghanistan than were present when President Obama took office in 2009.