With the decision on whether to send additional US troops to Afghanistan still looming, President Obama told the troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska that he would never hesitate to use force to protect the American people but made them this promise, "I will not risk your lives unless it is necessary to America's vital interests. And if it is necessary the United States of America will have your back.”
In a briefing on board Air Force One en route to Alaska, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that no announcement on troop levels will occur before the President arrives back in Washington, D.C. next Thursday. Yet the subject of Afghanistan is expected to come up in many of the President’s discussions during his eight-day trip through Asia. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes says it’s important to underscore the strong contributions in Afghanistan by several Asian nations. The Japanese government, which is the third largest contributor in the world in aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, announced on Tuesday that they would provide five billion dollars of additional aid for the war in Afghanistan. Last month, South Korea announced its plans to send a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) to Afghanistan in addition to the medical team already dispatched to the country. They also plan to deploy troops to Afghanistan to ensure security for the PRT.
Robert Gibbs says that President Obama has made tremendous progress on the decision over whether to add more forces to aid the situation in Afghanistan. However, Gibbs stresses that the United States has been there for eight years and its “important to fully examine not just how we’re going to get folks in but how we’re going to get folks out.”