Obama To Declare Troops Begin To Leave Afghanistan Before End Of Term

Michael Santo's picture

While President Barack Obama has not publicly stated his new plans for Afghanistan, he has already outlined it to his commanders. The gist of it is the U.S. will be sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and will have the first troops on the ground as early as Christmas. At the same time, he will declare during Tuesday night's speech to the nation that the troops will begin leaving in 19 months.

The prime-time speech will take place at the U.S. military academy at West Point. After a 92-day-review of Afghanistan, Obama will address the nation in an attempt to re-invigorate the Afghanistan effort, with a public that is clearly, for the most part, tired of the cost and expense of the war there and in Iraq.

His plans, already known by senior officials and military commanders, will involve the injection of additional troops, but will also include a timetable that will have they begin withdrawing in July of 2011.

The plan will have new troops on the ground before Christmas. Obama also intends to have the full measure of troops completed by the first six months of 2010. The additions will bring U.S. forces in the country above 100,000 by next summer.

Additionally, in his speech as well as in meetings in the coming days, Obama also will ask NATO allies to contribute more troops. He will ask for between 5,000 and 10,000 new troops, to be sent to the separate international force in Afghanistan.

Obama will not acknowledge a date for a total end to the war. However, an official told ABC News that the plan is to emphasize that Afghans take responsibility in certain geographic areas. That would allow, he said, a "thinning out" of U.S. forces in the country by "by the end of the president's first term."

The primary mission of Obama's surge, according to officials speaking on condition of anonymity, ahead of the President's address, would be to target the Taliban-led insurgency and protect the Afghan population. Additionally, they will work to improve the U.S. ability to train Afghan security forces to handle more on their own.

Most of the new forces will be combat troops. Sources said marines, who will be the largest part of the surge, will most likely come primarily from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Army brigades will most likely be sent from Fort Drum in New York and Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

Written by Michael Santo

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