Barack Obama said President George W Bush isn't acting quickly or forcefully enough to get more US forces into Afghanistan and out of Iraq.
Bush "is tinkering around the edges and kicking the can down the road to the next president" with his decision Tuesday to bring home only 8,000 combat and support troops from Iraq by February, the Democratic presidential candidate said.
Bush said a Marine battalion scheduled to be sent to Iraq in November will instead be deployed to Afghanistan, followed by an Army combat brigade early next year. In all, that would add 4,500 to 4,700 combat troops in Afghanistan.
Less than two hours later, Obama went before reporters during a campaign stop in the Midwestern battleground state of Ohio to respond.
"His plan comes up short _ it is not enough troops, not enough resources, with not enough urgency," Obama said. "The next president will inherit a status quo that is still unstable."
The Democratic presidential nominee said Bush doesn't understand that Afghanistan and Pakistan are the central front in the war on terrorism, not Iraq. He said his Republican White House rival, John McCain, doesn't get that, either.
Obama said if elected in November, he will remove troops from Iraq in a measured but methodical way and send more into Afghanistan. He recently proposed sending two brigades, or about more 7,000 troops, into Afghanistan, while withdrawing one or two brigades a month from Iraq.
Except for bringing home the 8,000 troops, Bush said, he'll keep the US force strength in Iraq intact until the next president takes over. He said more US forces could be withdrawn if conditions allow in the first half of 2009, but that will be the call of his successor. About 146,000 US troops are in Iraq.
McCain spoke at a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, just after Bush made the announcement. The Republican presidential nominee's only acknowledgment of Iraq was to tell the crowd that the US is winning and Obama was wrong about the war.