The additional troop strength is designed to reverse the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan have increased annually since the invasion in 2001, with the 155 U.S. military casualties last year being the highest since the occupation began.
While it was easy to make a case for an invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks (most of the highjackers were trained by Taliban forces there), there’s no case to be made for continuing American deployments there anymore.
The military has also prepared for Obama a plan to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months, which is the timeline that the new president pledged early in his campaign he’d use to withdraw from Iraq. There was never a strong national security case to be made for invading Iraq.
Candidate Obama promised early in the presidential campaign to “safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months.” However, Obama backtracked later in the campaign, saying he would only remove most of the combat troops but “a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq.” American soldiers would also continue to train Iraqi military units and perform other non-frontline duties such as guard American diplomats and businessmen. But there has never been a "front line" in the Iraqi conflict. In other words, Obama would “end the war” in Iraq without ending the war. American troops would continue to die, and they’ll be more vulnerable than ever without back-up units. It may eventually get so bad that our soldiers there could begin to feel like "sitting ducks" or even “hostages" in a hostile land where they are increasingly viewed as occupiers rather than liberators.
Obama’s foreign policy plans thus far indicate he will be no friend of a George Washington-style non-interventionist foreign policy. His nomination of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state — who has never opposed a war proposition — can only bolster the jingoism of an administration that will likely get more American soldiers killed unnecessarily.
Only withdrawal from these two unnecessary deployments can bring U.S. casualty rates down to zero. Our troops deserve nothing less than to be brought home in safety to their loved ones, absent a vital threat to the nation.