Obama strategy a 'high-stakes gamble'
By Ben Pershing
After months of deliberation, President Obama will unveil his new strategy for Afghanistan Tuesday to a country -- and a Congress -- still divided on the right way forward.
Obama is expected to announce at West Point that he is sending 34,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, and will ask allies to send an additional 5,000 troops. This latest troop increase "will nearly triple the American military presence in Afghanistan that Mr. Obama inherited when he took office and represents a high-stakes gamble by a new commander in chief that he can turn around an eight-year-old war that his own generals fear is getting away from the United States," the New York Times reports. "Obama will lay out in his speech what amounts to an exit strategy, centered on measures to strengthen the Afghan government so that its security forces can begin taking control of their own country," the Washington Post writes. "He is expected to specify benchmarks for Afghan progress on both the military and political fronts."
Bloomberg's headline says Obama now "owns" the Afpak conflict (but haven't we been calling it "Obama's War" for awhile?). As for the timing, the Associated Press writes: "Military officials said at least one group of Marines is expected to deploy within two or three weeks of Obama's announcement, and would be in Afghanistan by Christmas. Larger deployments wouldn't be able to follow until early in 2010." Abroad, the Financial Times reports "France and Germany are under pressure to raise the number of troops they have in Afghanistan after decisions by the Obama administration and several NATO powers and US allies to commit to a major new deployment." Britain has already committed to sending an additional 500 troops.
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