Obama on US troops in Afghanistan

In an interview on CBS “Face the Nation” President Obama said if his newly announced plan for Afghanistan doesn’t work he will not necessarily add more troops.

“What I will not do is to simply assume that more troops always results in-- an improved situation, “ said Obama. “I think there was a good argument after us scrubbing this very hard and talking to a lot of our allies in the region, including the Pakistan, Afghanistan governments, the Europeans, and our other NATO allies, that this was the best strategy.”

The comment about more troops resulting in an improved situation could be seen as a direct critique of the surge tactics President Bush took in Iraq. In 2007, President Bush announced a new series of deployments of U.S. troops to Iraq, known as the surge, to help stop insurgent violence that at the time was spiraling out of control. The announcement by Bush and the subsequent troop movements was roundly dismissed by then-candidate Obama on the campaign trail. He often used his assessment of the Iraq surge as a way to discuss his plans for changes in Afghanistan troop movements.

The President today also said that his plans for Afghanistan focus on increasing foreign aid to that impoverished nation as well as to Pakistan. “And I am gonna be-- really pushing Congress because sometimes foreign aid is, you know, a juicy target, particularly during tough times, “ Obama said. “I'm gonna tell them this is central to our strategy, and it can save lives and troops if we properly execute it.”

The President’s plan for Afghanistan, announced Friday, sets no timelines for US troops in the country and includes training for Afghan military and police with a goal of 134,000 military and 82,000 police by 2011. Those numbers would almost double both groups.