30,000 more troops; no date certain for full withdrawal

Forget what you heard about the war ending in three years    (afp)

President Obama tonight will announce he's sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, with a plan to start pulling everyone out in July 2011. How long the withdrawal takes depends on circumstances, administration officials told reporters on a conference call.

“The slope thereafter is something that will be determined by the commander in chief,” a White House official said.

What circumstances, you wonder? “Conditions on the ground,” of course.

“The president will make the strong point tonight that this is not an open-ended commitment,” the official said. “And the idea here is that all of us are — have to have a sense of urgency about this opportunity in the coming months, to shift the momentum in Afghanistan.”

The president shortly departs the White House for West Point, where he makes the speech starting at 8 p.m. By combining a troop surge with an announcement on the start of a withdrawal, the administration hopes to mollify both the war-hankering Republicans and peace-hugging Democrats.

 

Beltway ConfidentialUS

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