President Barack Obama detailed an aggressive plan last night to quell the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and restore control of the country to local government by 2011. During his speech at West Point military academy in New York, the commander-in-chief announced plans to deploy 30,000 new U.S. troops, bringing the total American military presence in Afghanistan to roughly 100,000 strong. "I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Obama said (via The Boston Globe). "This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al-Qaida.'' In Colorado, there were several vigils and protests, mainly by left-leaning groups opposed to increased U.S. presence in the war-torn country (via Boulder's Daily Camera and the Colorado Springs Gazette). Meanwhile, the state's federal lawmakers are expressing a range of perspectives. "Before I agree to support funding the President's increased troop levels in the 2011 budget, I will closely examine the efficacy of his plan to ensure that it is stabilizing Afghanistan, and preparing the country to defend itself," says Congresswoman Diana DeGette (right), a Democrat from Denver (via Fox31). Congressman Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, is disappointed, saying he does "not believe there can be a military solution to this conflict." Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, expressed support for the surge because of the president's focus on fighting "Islamic extremism." Conversely, Congressman Mike Coffman (left), a Republican and Marine combat veteran, calls the president's plan weak: "Unfortunately, the president's speech was more about an exit strategy than a winning strategy." The speech did not always match the realities in Afghanistan, as The Associated Press notes in a fact-check of the president's claims. And The New York Times wonders if the Afghan government and military will be able to keep up its end of the plan.
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