The White House says President Barack Obama will announce his new
strategy for Afghanistan Tuesday night in a nationwide address from the
U.S. military academy at West Point in New York.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced President Obama's plans
Wednesday. Gibbs said U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan for eight
years, and he said the United States will not be in Afghanistan for
another eight or nine years.
The announcement follows several weeks of deliberations and meetings
with members of the president's national security team on the way
forward in Afghanistan. News reports say Mr. Obama is most likely to
back a plan calling for the deployment of at least 30,000 more U.S.
troops. Mr. Obama has vowed to "finish the job" in Afghanistan.
There are currently 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Gibbs says it costs the United States about one million dollars per year for each deployed soldier.
General Stanley McChrystal -- the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan --earlier
this year told the president that up to 40,000 additional troops are
needed to combat Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the region.
News organizations (CNN, New York Times) say U.S.
officials will ask NATO countries at an alliance meeting in Belgium
next week to supply the additional troops needed to get to General
McChrystal's requested level.
General McChrystal and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are expected
to testify before congressional committees in the days after Mr.
Meanwhile, NATO member Italy Wednesday said it is committed to
increasing its presence in Afghanistan, but did not release details.
Italy has more than 2,600 troops in Afghanistan. Four hundred troops
recently returned home following Afghan elections.
Britain earlier announced plans to send an additional 500 troops to
Afghanistan if allies increased their contributions. A spokesman (Simon Lewis) for
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday the prime minister
is optimistic that 10 other NATO allies will offer an additional 5,000
troops for the mission.