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Noem, Thune, Johnson agree with plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Posted: Saturday, Jun 25th, 2011

War-weary Americans are embracing President Obama’s call to begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan and South Dakota’s congressional delegation generally agree, although one is cautioning that it should be conducted “carefully and deliberately.”

In any case, the drawdown should proceed based on advice from military commanders and realities on the ground, they said.

The president told a national television audience on Wednesday evening that troops would begin returning to the United States this summer, and that 10,000 would be home by the end of the year.

The troop surge strategy has halted the progress of the Taliban, said Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., who touched on the withdrawal plan during a Thursday conference call.

She said she empathizes with those who are weary of the 10-year war.

“As conditions on the ground dictate, I think troops should come home,” she said.

Noem said she has no harsh criticism of Obama on his withdrawal plan, and that the administration will have to rely on military leaders in the field to advise on the timeframe.

Some are worried about keeping Afghanistan stable, and whether the Afghan government is willing and able to maintain order. A military presence by the United States and coalition governments may still be needed.

“America has made significant sacrifices and investments in Afghanistan,” Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said in a statement released prior to Obama’s speech.

“The reduction of 10,000 troops by the end of the year announced by the president is a sign of progress after almost a decade of fighting in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Since the surge, U.S. forces have made substantial gains, including securing territory, and we do not want to lose what we have fought hard to obtain,” Johnson said.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is urging a military drawdown that is done carefully and deliberately, subject to conditions on the ground and consistent with protecting U.S. troops.

“I will be closely examining the details of the president’s plan, as well as the perspective of our commanders on the ground, before drawing any final conclusions about the president’s proposal,” he said in a statement.

For the complete article see the 06-24-2011 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-24-2011 paper.

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