0626AFGHANaudU.S. Army Col. Michael Pyott, who teaches at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, talks about President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Larry Emmett, whose son-in-law has returned from his second deployment in Afghanistan, said he believes the U.S. should leave the war-scarred country "as soon as possible."
"But I do think 10,000 (troops) is a good start," said Emmett, outgoing commander of Paul E. Bolding American Legion Post 7 in Gainesville.
He was referring to President Barack Obama's announcement Wednesday that he will pull 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by December and another 23,000 by the end of next summer.
Obama's plan will leave 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the drawdown. Most of those troops would gradually come home over the next two years; the U.S. plans to close out its combat role in Afghanistan by 2015.
"I think we've done our job in Afghanistan and it's time for us to clear out of there," Emmett said.
The Afghanistan war, or "Operation Enduring Freedom," started Oct. 7, 2001, or nearly a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.
More than 1,600 soldiers have been killed in what has turned out to be America's longest war.
The U.S. has focused its efforts on putting down the Taliban, an Islamic extremist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and killing terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
A Navy SEALs unit killed bin Laden May 2 in his Pakistani compound.
Emmett does believe the U.S. has to withdraw troops in an orderly way.
"We can't destabilize Afghanistan by pulling everyone out," he said. "We will never close all the bases over there. It's like Germany (after World War II)."
U.S. Army Col. Michael Pyott, who teaches military science at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, said he thinks the U.S. "is well on its way" to meeting goals of the 30,000-troop surge in 2009 — denying terrorist group al-Qaida a "safe haven," reversing Taliban momentum in the region and training up Afghan national security forces.
He bases that belief on "everything I've heard from friends who are serving over there to things I've heard and read from the Army."
Pyott, who has been in the Army 20 years and has served in Afghanistan, said he isn't "a big fan" of pinning an exact date to troop withdrawals.
"But I think it's important for the country to understand that we're not going to be committed to these constant deployments," said Pyott, who also has served in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff.
That's music to Bonnie Marshall's ears.
Her son, Taylor, deployed in March for the first time to Afghanistan. He is part of the Army's 25th Infantry Division and serves as a corporal in a mortar division.
"I wish it was going to be sooner," she said of her son's return. "But I'm ecstatic (at the announcement) and I think it's a good move. I hope (Obama) can follow through and make it happen."
Taylor, whose platoon is taking over for withdrawing Canadian soldiers, is scheduled to return in April or May.
Also excited about the withdrawal is Kaye Taylor, whose son saw combat as a Navy hospital corpsman 3rd class in Afghanistan.
He received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for efforts in rescuing others, including while injured.
"The losses we've endured - just in my son's unit, 12 in seven months last year — have been horrendous," Kaye Taylor said. "I mourn for the young men we've lost.
"Do I think what (Obama) is doing is enough? No sir," she said. "As far as this war (is concerned), I'm like most Americans. I'm done. What more can we do? I like seeing people obtain their freedom ... but we've got to let (the Afghans) have their country.
"We've given them everything we've got and then some."
Pyott said he believes Obama, in announcing the withdrawal, hit upon another important matter: "Investing back in the United States."
"It's important, as a military officer, that we've got to look at what we're doing to secure our own homeland and secure our own future," he said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.