Obama’s gamble: 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan

President Barack Obama plans to announce on Tuesday that he will send about 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in a long-awaited war strategy shift that he hopes will defeat the Taliban and allow for a U.S. exit.

After three months of deliberations that some critics called dithering, Obama is to lay out his plan in a speech to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The high-stakes televised address will take place at 8 p.m. EDT.

The troop increase represents a major gamble by Obama. He came to office vowing a greater focus on Afghanistan but has faced skepticism from some key advisers about the wisdom of putting more American lives and money on the line for a government in Kabul widely seen as corrupt and inept.

In a nod to those concerns, Obama plans to devote part of his speech to stressing that the United States does not have an “open-ended commitment” in Afghanistan, but rather wants to hand over power to freshly trained Afghan forces and start withdrawing as soon as is practicable.

Obama’s challenge is to reverse what U.S. military commanders call a deteriorating situation due to a resurgent Taliban. He also aims to persuade Afghan President Hamid Karzai to crack down on corruption and improve governance in exchange for U.S. support.

Obama is also expected to stress the need for Pakistan to do more to fight militants who have crossed into Afghanistan. The administration has said getting the policy right in Islamabad is just as important as in Kabul.

The White House would not detail Obama’s strategy, but other U.S. officials said he would announce that he has authorized sending about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Currently there are roughly 68,000 U.S. troops and 42,000 allied forces there.

Obama is not expected to set a specific pullout date. The strategy envisages a phased troop buildup over the next 12 to 18 months followed by a gradual drawdown and handover to Afghan forces over three to five years, officials said.

A TOUGH SELL

The president may face a tough sell at home with many Americans weary of the war begun after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and wanting more focus on the weak U.S. economy.

James Monaghan of Watertown, New York, reflected this mood in talking about his 20-year-old daughter based at nearby Fort Drum and currently deployed in Iraq.

“She’s got kids. She’s got a husband … in the military as well. And it’s just, you know, I figure, it’s my personal opinion, it’s time for family to come home. Bring the kids home. You know, bring the kids home,” he said.

Obama’s announcement is likely set off a battle in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress over funding since his own Democrats oppose a big troop surge. The added cost could reach $20-40 billion. Some Democrats have talked of imposing a “war surtax” to pay for it.

Pentagon officials hope NATO member-states eventually will supplement the U.S. surge with up to 10,000 of their own troops and trainers, pushing the overall number of extra troops close to 40,000, the number recommended by the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Britain has said it expects countries to pledge only a further 5,000 troops on top of those sent by Obama.

The president worked the phones on Monday, talking to the leaders of Britain, France, Russia, Denmark and others. He planned to call Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday.

The new strategy will emphasize securing Afghan population centers and accelerating the training of Afghan security forces to gradually assume control.

At the same time, the United States will intensify counterterrorism operations, as advocated by Vice President Joe Biden, using unmanned aerial drones and special operations forces against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and possibly in Afghanistan’s more sparsely populated areas.

6 Responses to "Obama’s gamble: 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan"

  1. Carl Nemo  December 1, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    “Obama is a genius!”…extract from post

    Of course you jest Woody! : )  Obama is our national feelgood “Uncle Tom” elected on smooth talk from an oratorally gifted politician from the ‘Windy City’…! 

    I’ve listened to a number of black preachermen in my time, on occasion in a church situation.  The gifted one’s know how to stoke the congregation. I suspect President Obama learned many of his skills from the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  It’s not  simply the fiery oratorical words that you say, but the much more powerful pause between those words; ie., the silence, the pregnant delay waiting for feedback from an enraptured audience.

    America has been simply snookered by a highly gifted speaker, not an intellectual by any means.

    This President was selectively chosen by the shadowy elitists who own this country lock, stock and barrel to give us all false hope until their flagship party the “rethuglicans” can regain control.  In the meantime he’s following their script to the letter and selling us all out for his secured position as a one term President.  Great retirement percs, the immensely enriching lecture circuit along with SS protection for life etc. He’s hit a lifetime “homerun” and as far as he’s concerned about Amerika’s plight…tough!

    We seemingly must suffer his presence for another three plus years…OUCH!

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. woody188  December 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Three months to come up with the Bush surge strategy.  Obama is a genius!

  3. Walter F. Wouk  December 1, 2009 at 8:09 am

    This is all about the 2010. elections.  Obama and the Clintonian wing of the Democratic Party need to look tough on terrorism, so they will sacrifice more of our troops — and innocent Afghan civilians — to satisfy that need.  

  4. Carl Nemo  December 1, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    “… he hopes will defeat the Taliban and allow for a U.S. exit.” …extract from article

    Many Roman leaders were also great generals who led their men on the field of battle.  Methinks they need to suit up our ‘fearless’  “Commander in Chief” with 80 pounds of gear and send him to the Afghani zone of conflict in order to command and lead his general staff…no?!   We truly have a great title for these modern era pencil necked wimps; ie., “Commander in Chief”.  George Washington, Andy Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower they are not…! 

    If your general staff has their act together, you shouldn’t be operating on “hopes” to defeat your enemy.  These ever contentious, neolithic tribesmen who fight to live and live to fight will continue to send our men home with their caskets on their backs.  We’re trespassers in their homeland. It’s all they’ve got along with their fierce love of Allah and hope for a better afterlife than the here and now.  

    This move is nothing but a continuation of the shakedown of  American tax debtors until the 12th of forever in order to continue to plump the obscene accounting ledgers of major MIC players along with tens of thousands minor camp-following contracting parasites. 

    War profiteers are pond scum and evidently our national leadership enjoys swimming in the same fetid waters. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. woody188  December 2, 2009 at 3:07 am

    Yes, obviously sarcasm. :)

    Is it because it’s the right strategy that it’s the same plan as Junior Bush or is it because it’s the same people making the same decisions in control of our government that we end up with the same strategy?

    Has that strategy worked as planned in Iraq?

    Perhaps it’s because the government only knows how to grow larger and more expensive that it is always the strategy.

    I hope Afghanization works better than Vietnamization did.

    President Richard Nixon introduced his policy of “vietnamization“. The plan was to encourage the South Vietnamese to take more responsibility for fighting

  6. RichardKanePA  December 2, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Woody at least al Qaeda didn’t have a Pearl Harbor,  Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, or a 9/11 surprise.  That is a step forward. 

    Anyway I still see good things in Obama and planning to take “Support Obama not the War” paraphanella, google it,  to the next pro-heath care meeting that is pretending the war isn’t an issue.

    I am really unset with some of the ignorant things the antiwar movement is begining to stoop to, like George Carlin claiming we fought the German’s because they were moving into our turf,

    http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/17059

     

    RichardKanePA

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