On Dec. 1 President Barack Obama gave the speech many had been anticipating since his inauguration — the final decision on what is to be done with the situation in Afghanistan.
After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States launched a war on terrorism against al-Qaida just a month after the initial attacks. Now, a little more than eight years later, 30,000 additional American troops will be sent back to the country in an attempt to finish the job.
Among those troops will be several units from North Carolina, who are expected to receive deployment papers within the next few weeks.
For the Marines at Camp Lejuene in Jacksonville, N.C., deployment orders may come as soon as this week, according to Master Sgt. Keith A. Milks, spokesman for the Second Marine Expeditionary Force.
“We haven’t received official word … (but) we expect to be in the thousands,” Milks said. “The units that will be selected will be the ones that haven’t deployed in awhile…they been here the longest and have been through a long deployment program.”
According to Sgt Lisa Strickland, spokeswoman for Marine Corp Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C., marines will leave with the Marine Expeditionary Force after Jan. 1.
In addition to the influx of troops to Afghanistan, Obama also gave the American people a timeline of when the units in Iraq will exit.
According to his speech, all combat brigades will pull out by the end of next summer and all other troops will be gone by the end of 2011.
“That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform,” Obama said in his speech. “Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.”
These decisions have been long-coming to the ears of American citizens, whether they agree with them or not.
“I’m not sure why we’re so sure that sending 30,000 more troops is going to solve the problem,” political science professor Rudy Zarzar said. “Philosophically it’s a matter of principle. After all we know, we’ve been in Afghanistan now for eight years, and the only thing we’ve seen so far is more suffering for the Afghan people who have been seeing war after war almost the last 30 years.”
Political science professor Jason Kirk said the decision to go to Afghanistan initially was the right move, but al-Qaida cells in Pakistan is what Americans should worry more about.
“The decision to go into Afghanistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks was the right decision, but the United States made several mistakes for which we continue to pay a price,” Kirk said.
“Relying on Pakistan to secure the border between Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan was a serious error because it allowed senior al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban leaders to cross into Pakistan. Now, Pakistan has its own Taliban problem, and this is a far more serious threat to regional and international security than what happens in Afghanistan.”
Senior Emily Speers’ brother, Harry, is currently in Iraq serving as a platoon leader. Having a sibling in a Middle Eastern conflict is hard, but necessary she said.
“I feel like Afghanistan is still a threat because of the instability of the region in general,” she said. “I think it’s a responsibility to stabilize the region in general. It’s a miserable feeling (to have a loved one fighting), but if we’re looking at the big picture, which is national security … if that’s a solution then go for it.”
Senior Catherine Melendez’ father, Victor, is currently stationed in Afghanistan as a Major in the Army. Victor has been in the Army for 22 years and this is his first deployment, which he voluntarily took.
Melendez said she is proud of her father and supports Obama’s decision to send more troops.
“Although this war has been going on for a long time, we have to finish what we’ve started,”Melendez said. “The men and women that are over there are doing everything they can to keep us safe and help stabalize the nation. It was really hard on our family when he broke the news, but I support him 100 percent. His devotion and sacrifice now will ensure a more peaceful and safe future for my kids and generations to come. We are so blessed to have a military that so willingly ventures off to foreign nations to protect our freedom.”
Obama’s plan is to turn over responsibility to Afghan forces and begin to take American forces out of Afghanistan in July 2011.
“The overarching mission … is to ensure a secure and safe environment in which the Afghan people can live free of oppression and terror,” Milks said. “We want to give the Afghan people a safe and secure future.”