This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
forces in Afghanistan have launched their first offensive since President Obama
announced more troops for the war. On Friday, military officials said more than
one thousand NATO troops, mostly Americans, launched the operation with Afghan
forces. Troops moved in to clear Taliban insurgents and explosives from the Now
Zad valley in the southern province of Helmand.
On Tuesday President Obama told
Americans that thirty thousand more troops will go to Afghanistan as fast as
possible. And he announced that after eighteen months, in July of two thousand
eleven, "our troops will begin to come home."
He called Afghanistan and Pakistan the
"epicenter" of violent extremism by al-Qaida. He said the terrorist
group that attacked the United States eight years ago is plotting new attacks.
And he warned, "This is not just America's war."
said the people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are
endangered. The risks are even higher, he said, within a nuclear-armed
The thirty thousand will bring the number of American
troops in Afghanistan to about one hundred thousand. Almost forty thousand other
foreign troops are also there under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Friday, NATO announced that at least twenty-five countries will send about
seven thousand additional forces next year. American Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton made an appeal to NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
President Obama spent
three months considering his decision. He said one of the goals is to train
Afghan security forces to take responsibility for their own security. Setting a
date to begin removing troops is meant to put pressure on the government of
President Hamid Karzai to take responsibility.
BARACK OBAMA: "We must deny al-Qaida a safe haven.
We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the
government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security
forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for
Public opinion surveys show that the war has grown
increasingly unpopular with Americans. In Congress, the troop increase is
unpopular with some liberal Democrats. Cost is one concern. The president
estimated the cost of the new plan at about thirty billion dollars this year. Some
in his party argue that the money should go instead to economic recovery.
in Congress who support the troop increase criticized the president for setting
a date to start a pullout. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates said July of two
thousand eleven "will be the beginning of a process" that will depend
on conditions in Afghanistan.
For many Americans, finding a job
and getting health care are the top concerns -- as the president recognized in
BARACK OBAMA: "This is why our troop commitment in
Afghanistan cannot be open-ended, because the nation that I am most interested
in building is our own."
Friday, the Labor Department in Washington said the unemployment rate decreased
by two-tenths of one percent in November to ten percent. The monthly report said
the nation lost eleven thousand jobs -- far fewer than expected. It was the
best report since two thousand seven.
And that's IN THE NEWS in
VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.