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June 24, 2011

Obama: US troop withdrawal to begin

President Barack Obama told war-weary Americans in a 15 minute address from the East Room of the White House that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of American troops would be set in motion. He said Afghanistan no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States and that the "tide of war is receding." He announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" would leave by next summer. He added that the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the US handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. President Sarkozy, of France, said he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan. In keeping with 5,000 years of Afghan history, President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghans would take responsibility for the preservation of their soil, the security of their people and educating their children by the end of 2014.” In this post, we offer more glimpses of the troops and the Afghan people as they coexist, for now. - Paula Nelson (45 photos total)

U.S. President Barack Obama is seen on live television screens in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama announced he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Marine Staff Sargent Brandon Foote gets his hair cut by Darrell Ross as President Barack Obama's address is shown on a television at the Unisex House of Style barber shop, June 22, 2011, in Oceanside, CA., next to Camp Pendleton. At right, Marine Sargent Erick Johnson gets his haircut by retired Marine Alfonso Rushin and at left, David Stokes' hair is cut by Anthony Pinder. Hailing the beginning of the end of a devastating war, Obama announced he was removing 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press) #

Transfer cases containing the remains of Pfc. Joshua L. Jetton and Sgt. James W. Harvey II, sit on a loader during a prayer, June 22, 2011 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to the Department of Defense, Jetton, of Sebring, Florida, died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Harvey, 23, of Toms River, New Jersey, died June 20 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press) #

Solders of 16 Air Assault Brigade take part in a homecoming parade at Parliament, June 21, 2011 in London, England. The soldiers, who returned from operations in Afghanistan in April, marched to the Houses of Parliament to attend a reception with the All Party Group for the Armed Forces. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) #

A US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry walks along with Afghan soldiers during a patrol at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 22, 2011. President Barack Obama argued that his Afghan war surge strategy has forged substantial progress and a "position of strength" which allows thousands of US troops to come home, officials said. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

US soldiers from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry watch as young girls walk past them during a patrol inside the village at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 22, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

A US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry stands on a guard tower as the sun rises at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 23, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

US soldiers from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry patrol at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 22, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

US army soldiers from Charlie company 4th platoon,1st brigade 3-21 infantry, patrol in the village of Chariagen in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 22 , 2011.(Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

Canadian army soldiers sun bathe in Seprwan Ghar forward fire base the Panjwai district of Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 22, 2011. Canada will end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of July, after nearly ten years in Afghanistan. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

US army SFC John Roger Price from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry scans the horizon at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 22, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan boy from Helmand province, displaced due to the war, raises his arms in victory as he plays outside their tent in Kabul, June 22, 2011. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

A displaced Afghan man from Helmand province sifts wheat outside his tent in Kabul, June 22, 2011. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

Afghan boys play with a soccer ball against the backdrop of newly constructed residential apartments in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

An Afghan man loads animal feed recovered from a roadside garbage dump onto donkeys in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

An Afghan policeman points his gun towards a pedestrian at the scene of a suicide attack outside the office of Parwan provincial governor in Chaharikar, Parwan province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. Authorities say a failed suicide bombing targeting the governor of a province in northern Afghanistan killed a passer-by and wounded a guard. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

Afghan fruit sellers push their carts in Kabul, June 21, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

An Afghan man sells plastic cases for identity cards in Kabul, June 21, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

Afghan men pull their carts past roadside timber stalls in Kabul, June 21, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

Internally displaced Afghans near a makeshift tent at a camp for refugees in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 20, 2011. On World Refugee Day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for accelerated peace initiatives so that all Afghan refugees can return to their homes, a statement by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

Internally displaced Afghan boys in their makeshift camp in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

A US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry, stands guard on a watch tower overlooking villages at Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. President Barack Obama announced the size of his drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan on June 23, mapping out an endgame for a 10-year war that has exacted a fearsome human and financial toll. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan man waits for customers as he sells mangos in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

An Afghan man waits for customers at his bakery in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters) #

Afghan boys hitch a ride on a push cart in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

Afghan men pray on a hill overlooking part of Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Ahmad Masood/Reuters) #

Afghan refugee girls at a refugee camp in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press) #

An Afghan woman dusts vehicles, expecting alms, as they stop at a traffic light on a main road in Kabul, June 20, 2011. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press) #

A young Afghan refugee poses at The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registration centre on the outskirts of Peshawar, June 20, 2011, prior to returning to her home country Afghanistan, after fleeing civil war and Taliban rule. Pakistan is host a refugee population of 1.9 million.(A. Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

An internally displaced Afghan woman sits at a refugee camp in Kabul, June 20, 2011. More than 4.6 million Afghan refugees have returned home since 2002 with assistance from the Government, the United Nations and partners.(Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan refugee family climbs onto a truck at The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registration centre on the outskirts of Peshawar, June 20, 2011, prior to returning to their home country of Afghanistan, after fleeing civil war and Taliban rule. (A. Majeed/AFP/Getty Images) #

A US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry takes a position next to students attending classes outside a school building during a foot patrol in Sabari district in Khost province in the east of Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

Children attend classes at a school in a village near Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed June 19, that US officials were involved in preliminary talks with the Taliban to seek a political solution to the Afghan war but said he didn't expect significant progress for months. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan soldiers along with a US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry converse with students during a patrol at a school in a village near Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

A US soldier from Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry rests next to a board picturing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) during a foot patrol at a village near Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

cutUS soldiers of the Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry, listen to a briefing before taking off for a raid operation in the Sabari village, in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. Sabari district is one of the most volatile in Khost province which borders on Pakistan and is seeing a rise in a coalition offensive against highly active insurgents.(Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)line goes here #

A US soldier of the Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry, searches for weapons during a raid in the Sabari village, in Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

US army SFC Alex Kenrick of the Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry examines a mortar round found in a river bed at a village in Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province, June 19, 2011, that was believed to have been used the night before to fire on the outpost. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

A US soldier of the Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry, takes his position during a house to house search in the Sabari village, in Khost province, June 19, 2011. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

US army PFC Daniel Philips of the Viper Company (Bravo), 1-26 Infantry examines confiscated ammunitions and guns inside a house during a raid at a village in Combat Outpost (COP) Sabari in Khost province, June 19, 2011. The raid was made after mortar rounds were fired on the outpost the night before. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Canadian Army soldier of the 22nd royal regiment, 1st battalion, Bulldog company, 1st platoon, at the forward fire base Zangabad in Panjwai district in Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. Canada will end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of July, after nearly ten years in Afghanistan. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

A Canadian Army soldier of the 22nd royal regiment, 1st battalion, Bulldog company, 1st platoon, stands on top of a light armored vehicle before leaving forward fire base Zangabad to U.S. forces, in Panjwai district in Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

Canadian Army soldiers carry their belongings to a truck before a handover ceremony of forward fire base Zangabad to U.S. forces, in Panjwai district in Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 19,2011. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

Canadian Army Private Danny Drapeau of the 22nd royal regiment, 1st battalion, Bulldog company, 1st platoon, lowers the Canadian national flag during a ceremony marking the Canadian handover of forward fire base Zangabad to U.S. forces, in Panjwai district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, June 19, 2011.(Baz Ratner/Reuters) #

Canadian Army soldiers of the 22nd royal regiment, 1st battalion, Bulldog company, 1st platoon, fold the Canadian national flag during a ceremony marking the Canadian handover of forward fire base Zangabad to U.S. forces. (Baz Ratner/Reuters) #



 
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