US to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan

American forces in war-torn country to cross more than 100,000

US to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan

Obama conveyed his decision to military leaders on Sunday afternoon during a meeting in the Oval Office and then spent Monday phoning foreign counterparts, including the leaders of Britain, France and Russia.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, declined to say how many additional troops would be deployed, but senior administration officials previously have said that about 30,000 will go in coming months, bringing the total American force to about 100,000.
On top of previous reinforcements already sent this year, the troop buildup will nearly triple the American military presence in Afghanistan that 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 US.

Test of ability
The speech he plans to deliver at the US Military Academy at West Point at 8 pm will be the first test of his ability to rally an American public that according to polls has grown sour on the war, as well as his fellow Democrats in Congress who have expressed deep scepticism about a deeper involvement in Afghanistan.
Gibbs told reporters at the White House that Obama would discuss in the speech how he intended to pay for the plan — a major concern of his Democratic base — and would make clear that he had a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war.
“This is not an open-ended commitment,” Gibbs said.
Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spoke for more than an hour on Tuesday morning in a video conference, The Associated Press reported, quoting a statement issued by Karzai’s spokesman.
The administration was sending its special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C Holbrooke, to Brussels on Tuesday to begin briefing the NATO and European allies about the policy.

He will be joined at the NATO headquarters there on Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen Stanley A McChrystal, who will brief NATO foreign ministers in his capacity as the senior allied commander.
Obama spent much of Monday calling allied leaders. He spoke for 40 minutes with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who signalled that France was not in a position to commit more troops. There are currently 3,750 French soldiers and 150 police officers in Afghanistan.

“He said France would stay at current troop levels for as long as it takes to stabilise Afghanistan,” said an official briefed on the exchange.
Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday that Britain would send 500 additional troops to Afghanistan in early December, raising the number of British troops there to 10,000.
Obama also called Russian President Dmitri A Medvedev and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and he met Austraian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the White House.

Administration officials said that Obama in his speech would lower American ambitions for the rate of training Afghan soldiers and the national police, a position that could put him at odds with some senior lawmakers. They have been pressing to expand and accelerate the training, to speed the day when Afghan forces could assume more security duties and American troops could begin to withdraw.
The New York Times

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