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Obama on Afghan War, Troop Strength

by campaign2008
March 12, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) held a news conference Wednesday at the Chicago History Museum in which he cited endorsements for the Democratic presidential nomination from top officers from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. They included Major Gen. Scott Gration (USAF-Ret.), who served as Commander of Task Force West during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, who served as Chief of Staff of the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm; and Major Gen. Ralph Wooten, former commanding general of the U.S. Army’s chemical arsenal, among others.

Obama’s comments focused on U.S. military efforts underway worldwide, including the following:

Iraq: Obama said he opposed the effort to go to war against Iraq in March 2003 because “we had yet to finish the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Afghanistan: Obama also reiterated his support for the war effort in Afghanistan, and repeated his call for at least two additional combat brigades to be sent there so the United States can “focus on finishing the job.”

Military troop size: He said overall ground forces should be increased by 65,000 Army soldiers and 27,000 Marines “to relieve the strain on our troops and to increase our capacity to put boots on the ground.”

Centcom chief resignation: Obama commented on the resignation of the commander of U.S. Central Command, Adm. William Fallon, saying Fallon understood that the “singular focus on Iraq has diverted our attention from critical areas like Afghanistan.”

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