Obama set to announce plans for Afghan troop deployment

President will call for Nato allies to play their part in long-awaited speech next week

President Barack Obama said yesterday that he is almost ready to announce how many troops he will deploy to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, but added that he expected America's allies similarly to meet their obligations there.

Speaking during a joint press conference with the visiting Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the President demurred when asked for specifics by reporters, saying only that the country would know his intentions after Thanksgiving, the national holiday that is celebrated tomorrow.

With most Americans still in a festive mood on Friday, it seemed likely that the announcement would come on Monday or Tuesday, possibly in the form of Mr Obama's first television address to the nation from the Oval Office. Sources indicated that after a final meeting of his war council on Monday evening, he had finally settled on sending roughly 34,000 additional soldiers to the war, but phased over a year or even more. "After eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job," Mr Obama said. "I will be making an announcement to the American people about how we intend to move forward. I will be doing so shortly."

Officials at the Pentagon hinted that the reinforcements to the 68,000 US troops already on the ground will be sent in waves, roughly at the pace of one brigade a quarter. Any faster and the strain on the Afghan infrastructure and America's military budget may prove too great. "This will not be done overnight," said Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell. "This is going to take some time to deploy additional forces to Afghanistan, if that is the route we take."

For Mr Obama, the announcement will be a dicey moment in his young presidency. While conservatives have accused him of dithering over Afghanistan, his core liberal supporters will be appalled by the notion of committing even one more soldier to a war that is unpopular and expensive in money and lives. It is why his speech will emphasise an exit strategy and the partnership he expects from the allies, including Britain.

"One of the things I'm going to be discussing is the obligations of our international partners," he said, while adding: "The Afghan people ultimately are going to have to provide for their own security, and so we'll be discussing that process whereby Afghan security forces are properly trained and equipped to do the job."

Selling an increased US commitment to Americans will be tough, but Mr Obama may face an even harder audience on Capitol Hill, where scepticism about the war has been growing among Democrats. General Stanley McChrystal, who initiated the review process by asking for 40,000 new troops, is likely to be summoned to testify before committees on the Hill as to why a troop increase is necessary.

Also preparing for a call to testify is Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, who helped to reveal deep divisions inside the Obama administration when he argued in two cables to the President that sending any additional soldiers to Afghanistan was a bad idea until the recently reinstalled President Hamid Karzai improved the competence and erased the corruption of his government.

No new troops would be likely to arrive in Afghanistan until the early spring when fighting with the Taliban usually begins to pick up again. They would almost certainly be deployed to bolster the US presence in southern Afghanistan around Kandahar. The roll-out would continue into early 2011.

Mr Obama will also stress the importance of the civilian and diplomatic components of any new plan for Afghanistan.

* President Obama's delay in deciding whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan has undermined support in Britain for the war, the Defence Secretary warned yesterday. Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Select Committee, Bob Ainsworth said the delays in the US had hit ministers' attempts to argue the case for war.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions