Grappling with a war gone awry, President Barack Obama plans to send thousands more U.S. forces into Afghanistan, hoping to hasten the end of a conflict that still has no clear end in sight.
Obama on Friday will announce a multitiered strategy that banks heavily on world help and invigorated U.S. diplomacy. The Afghanistan war, which Obama calls adrift, is now his, and a central part of the new strategy is to build up the Afghan army.
The broad U.S goal remains much as it was when the war began in the fallout of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks: To dismantle the operations of the Taliban and al-Qaida, which have shifted their power base from Afghanistan to Pakistan in recent years.
Obama plans to send in 4,000 more U.S. military troops, whose mission will be to train and expand the Afghan army to take the lead on counterterrorism. He also plans to send in hundreds more U.S. civilians to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their nation.
Those forces are on top of the 17,000 extra combat troops that Obama has already approved.
The strategy fits with Obama’s operating premise — that the U.S. failed mightily in the post-Sept. 11 years by focusing on Iraq instead of putting enough military in Afghanistan.
"The president has decided that he’s going to resource this war properly," said one senior administration official involved in Obama’s Afghanistan-Pakistan review. Three Obama officials spoke on condition of anonymity about the plan because it was not yet public.
The build up comes with a cost.
Violence is rising. The war in Afghanistan saw American military deaths rise by 35 percent in 2008 as Islamic extremists shifted their focus to a new front with the West.
Obama’s plan will also cost many more billions of dollars. His officials said Thursday night that they did not yet have a specific budget figure tied to the strategy.
The president’s plan includes no timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Obama called Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday to brief them on his plans.
"He made it very clear there are no blank checks," one administration official said.
Obama will detail his strategy at the White House on Friday morning, timed with purpose.
His moves comes ahead of a U.N. conference on Afghanistan next Tuesday in The Hague, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join representatives from more than 80 countries. And Obama himself is attending a NATO meeting next week in France and Germany.
At that meeting, the U.S. expects some NATO coalition members to commit more forces to the flagging war in Afghanistan, Obama officials said Thursday. They did not get specific.
Roughly 65,000 international forces are in Afghanistan, more than half from the U.S.
One part of Obama’s plan is to expose fractures in the Taliban in hopes of weakening it.
Obama officials say the most difficult part of their approach will be in dealing with Pakistan, an often chaotic place with an erratic relationship with the United States. The administration will seek to bolster the democratic government of Pakistan, and try to get the people of that country to see the U.S.-led effort as one that is in their interests.
"We have to address the trust deficit that we have with Pakistanis," one senior administration official said. "That’s not going to be easy."
Obama also will call for increasing aid to Pakistan as long as its leaders confront militants in the border region. The president will work with Congress on language to attach conditions to military aid, sources said.
The U.S. will launch an intensive and expanded diplomatic effort to gain international cooperation, including reaching out to Russia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and even Iran.
The 4,000 military trainers Obama is sending to Afghanistan will come from 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. All of the troops he is dispatching to Afghanistan, including the combat troops, will be there by fall.
Several sources told The Associated Press the strategy includes 20 recommendations for countering a persistent insurgency that spans the two countries’ border.
The written outline of Obama’s plan describes a "strategy for success," as opposed to an exit strategy, but the goal is the same: stability on both sides of the border that would allow a reduction and eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the training group is needed because there aren’t enough U.S. military advisers there now.
The plan notes that the top U.S. general in Afghanistan still wants some 10,000 or 11,000 additional U.S. forces next year, but it does not say whether Obama intends to fulfill that request now, sources said. That decision would come by the end of this year.
Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Pamela Hess, Anne Flaherty, Lolita C. Baldor, Pauline Jelinek, Robert Burns, Matthew Lee and Richard Lardner contributed to this report.