St. Petersburg, FL -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced that 33,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan would be brought home by next summer. Officials say about 10,000 of the troops will be home by the end of the year.
After the draw down, about 70,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan.
With the death of Osama bin Laden and a war that is costing the U.S. more than $100 billion a year, pressure has been mounting for the President to bring home the 2009 'surge' forces.
However some worry that bringing home American troops too early will cost the U.S. what gains have been made fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Below are copies of releases issued by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis officials following the President's speech.
SENATOR RUBIO COMMENTS ON PRESIDENT'S AFGHANISTAN SPEECH
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio tonight issued the following statement regarding President Obama's Afghanistan policy speech:
"Our ultimate goal in Afghanistan should be to give the Afghan people a chance to build a lasting viable state. This is not about nation-building for the sake of doing so. This is in our vital national interests for two reasons. First, because an unstable Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for Al Qaeda to operate from. Second, an unstable Afghanistan would become a base of operations for radical Islamic insurgents who seek to take control of Pakistan. A nuclear Pakistan in the hands of a radical Islamic government would be a catastrophic development.
"This is a part of the world where leaders always hedge their bets. Even the slightest impression that the United States is looking to get out is devastating. It is one of the reasons why Pakistan continues to undermine our efforts to target Al Qaeda. It also discourages tribal leaders in Afghanistan from cooperating with us to defeat the Taliban, and it encourages the Taliban to keep on fighting.
"Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It is about the bigger fight against Al Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism.
"After a decade of fighting, the American people are weary of war. Facing massive unemployment and a growing national debt, they are weary of the effort's cost. So am I. But the answer to a bad situation is not to make it worse. And I have always believed that a troop withdrawal plan based not on progress towards our ultimate goal, but rather on a desire to hit certain numbers, would be a tragic mistake.
"Yes, American troops need to leave Afghanistan, but they should do so pursuant to a plan that accomplishes our vital goal. I hope that in the days to come, the President will more clearly articulate how his troop withdrawal plan does that."
Rep. Bilirakis Statement on Afghanistan Troop Drawdown
Washington, DC (June 22, 2011) - Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-09), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement after President Obama announced his plans to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan:
"We are making a difference in Afghanistan, and I believe that we are on track for a successful transition to Afghanistan control, but we must continue to make progress - the kind of progress that allowed us to kill Osama Bin laden and weaken al Qaeda and the Taliban - and not take steps backward," Bilirakis said. "Having been to Afghanistan, I have seen the advancements being made and I trust our Generals to tell us when the timing is right for a troop drawdown."