Obama tells troops: 'Our job is not finished'

The day after he announced his plans to drawdown troops in Afghanistan, President Obama told U.S. troops at Fort Drum, N.Y., that "there's still fighting to be done."

Obama spoke to the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, many of whom just returned from Afghanistan this spring.

ADVERTISEMENT
The president announced from the White House Wednesday night that he was ordering 10,000 troops withdrawn from Afghanistan this year and 23,000 troops by September 2012. The withdrawal of the 33,000 troops brings an end to the surge Obama ordered in December 2009.

"We're not doing it precipitously," Obama told the troops. "We're going to do it in a steady way to make sure that the gains that all of you helped to bring about are going to be sustained."

The president thanked the troops for their sacrifices, but he cautioned that the war is not over in Afghanistan.

"Our job is not finished," Obama said. "If you looked at the schedule that I set forth, we're only bringing out 10,000 by the end of this year."

Obama also noted the 68,000 troops that will remain after the drawdown.

"And, frankly, the 10th Mountain Division is still going to be represented there until we have fully transferred to the Afghan military and security forces," Obama said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that administration officials were "very pleased" by the reaction to the president's Wednesday night speech. Obama's approach dismayed many on the left and right because the troop withdrawal is either faster or slower than they'd hoped.

"You implement a strategy, you make progress in achieving your goals and you proceed to the next step," Carney said. "And this is the next step."