In Afghanistan, Obama Plan Gets Thumbs Up

(AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
U.S. soldiers across Afghanistan woke up early to watch President Obama's war strategy speech, which broadcast live at 5:30 a.m. local time Wednesday morning. Most liked what they heard.

"I'm very supportive of it, it sounds like a solid plan," U.S. Army Col. Jay D. Haden said. "I think it's consistent with the wishes and hopes of most of the people here."

The commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, welcomed the president's pledge of 30,000 additional troops saying, "it is a sufficient number of troop force the president approved."

Even the ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, who only weeks ago reportedly cautioned the president about sending in more troops into the country said Wednesday, he strongly supported his decision and said it will provide clarity and focus to the U.S. mission here.

President Obama also promised to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in a year and a half. The troop build up will begin almost immediately.

Lt. Col. Clarence Counts was pleased to have a timeline for the mission. "The 18 month part, for the families back home and the soldiers here is good to hear, but it's all the work in between that is really going to get this thing solved."

However, Afghan MP, Daoud Sultanzoy, says an end date could be dangerous. "It could give the Taliban and other elements in this country, the mafia, drug lords and warlords, the impression that if the United States is interested in setting up a timeline and withdrawal is imminent. They'll wait it out and that will cause us problems later on."

On top of sending in combat troops to fight the insurgency, President Obama also called for talks and reconciliation with Taliban members who would be willing to lay down their arms.

It is a strategy that many Afghans welcome. "The war cannot be won by fighting, you can only win if you start a dialogue," says Kabul resident, Ahmad Shah.

Some Taliban have come to the table for talks with the Afghan government, others have been put on the payroll for a program supported by U.S. tax dollars, paying them to turn their back on the insurgency.

John Dempsey, an analyst with the U.S. Institute of Peace based in Kabul, believes it is the way forward. "I think it is the only option. I don't think Afghanistan will succeed going forward unless there is a political dialogue with the insurgency."

Full Text of Obama's Remarks
Bob Schieffer: "Defining Moment" of Obama Presidency
McChrystal "Absolutely" Supports Timeline
Troops, Families Brace for Surge

Congress Scrutinizes New Afghan Plan
Marc Ambinder's Analysis: Obama Taking Big Risk
Mark Knoller: No Mention of "Victory"
McCain: No Deadlines for Afghan Withdrawal
Rep. Obey: Afghan War Must Be Paid For
Obama's Surge Comes with Expiration Date

Who Offers the Better Deal in Afghanistan?
Liberals Chastise Afghanistan Troop Increase
Polling Analysis: Afghanistan 2009 Vs. Iraq 2007 Special Report: Afghanistan