President Obama outlined his plans for the war in Afghanistan during speech given at West Point, saying that 30,000 more U.S. troops would head to the region next year and, conditions permitting, withdrawal will begin 18 months later, "These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan."

I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort...

If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow... I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.

You can read the full speech here and below is video of his remarks.

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The NY Times reports, "The speech at West Point, the culmination of a review that lasted three months, could well prove the most consequential of Mr. Obama’s presidency." And the Washington Post points out, "Obama is essentially gambling that Karzai, reelected last month by default, will feel more pressure to reform his government and that the Taliban will not simply wait out the U.S. military presence."

Obama's rival in the presidential election, Senator John McCain, supported the President's plan—except for the withdrawal date. He told CBS News' Katie Couric, "Success is what dictates dates for withdrawal and if we don't have that success and we only set an arbitrary date, it emboldens our enemies and disspirits our friends."