The White House on Tuesday signaled the end of months of deliberations on US strategy toward Afghanistan, announcing that President Barack Obama would reveal his decision within days.
"After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
And that troop increase is likely to be large. According to veteran intelligence reporter Jonathan Landay at McClatchy's Newspapers, the White House plans to dispatch some 34,000 additional troops -- slightly more than half the number requested by Afghan commander Stanley McChrystal.
"President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he's called 'a war of necessity' in Afghanistan," officials purportedly told the newswire.
"Obama is expected to announce his long-awaited decision on Dec. 1, followed by meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at winning congressional support amid opposition by some Democrats who are worried about the strain on the U.S. Treasury and whether Afghanistan has become a quagmire," Landay adds. "The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and because, one official said, the White House is incensed by leaks on its Afghanistan policy that didn't originate in the White House."
Late on Monday Obama held the ninth and last in a series of meetings with top commanders to examine the troubled war effort.
The results of those discussions are now widely expected to be made public next Tuesday, although a White House official said "nothing had been confirmed" about the timing of the announcement.
Obama has been weighing requests from the military top brass for tens of thousands of extra troops to be deployed.
"As it now stands," McClatchy writes,"the plan calls for the deployment over a nine-month period beginning in March of three Army brigades from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., and a Marine brigade from Camp Lejeune, N.C., for as many as 23,000 additional combat and support troops.
"In addition, a 7,000-strong division headquarters would be sent to take command of U.S.-led NATO forces in southern Afghanistan — to which the U.S. has long been committed — and 4,000 U.S. military trainers would be dispatched to help accelerate an expansion of the Afghan army and police," he adds.