President Obama probably will announce his decision on what the United States will do in Afghanistan sometime between Nov. 7 and Nov. 11, according to ABC News.
That would put the announcement between Afghanistan’s presidential runoff election and an Obama trip to Tokyo, although the anonymous sources ABC quotes say it’s also possible that the announcement will be put off until Obama returns from Asia Nov. 20.
Obama is leaning toward increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but not by the 40,000 urged by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the sources say. And no final decision has been made, they say.
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The strategies being examined range from McChrystal’s to Vice President Biden’s idea to leave troop levels unchanged and pursue al-Qaida terrorists instead of fighting the Taliban for control of the country.
Obama is trying to figure out a strategy that works with more troops but less than 40,000, the sources say. It probably will be a mix of counterinsurgency against the Taliban, including some nation-building steps and counterterrorism against al-Qaida.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a key White House ally on Afghanistan policy said Monday he would support a strategy to "send some additional troops" assuming Afghan troop training is upgraded and aid to civilians is increased.
But he said that the McChrystal's request "reaches too far, too fast," indicating the 40,000 number is too big for his taste.
NATO defense ministers last week endorsed McChrystal’s strategy without specifying troop levels. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said some of the allies are considering an increase in their own military or civilian contributions.
Pentagon officials say the administration has an unrealistic goal in expecting success within a year.
"My concern is that they will give him (McChrystal) what he wants, then he has to produce," one official told The Baltimore Sun.
"It's not that he cannot produce, but he cannot produce on the timeline they want."
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