White House officials announced today that President Barack Obama will address the nation on December 1 to unveil his new Afghanistan escalation strategy, putting an end to months of speculation and allowing NATO to approve its own escalation later that week.
Though the final decision took over three months for the administration to make the announcement does not appear to be far outside the expected range of options, and the 34,000-man escalation that was reportedly favored for the past month is said to be the plan of choice.
The exact details of the announcement will not be made public for another week, but is said to include a handful of largely artificial benchmarks designed to make the appearance that the war is moving forward. It does not however appear that it will include any concrete timeline for withdrawal.
Gen. McChrystal originally sought 20,000 troops, but eventually was requesting as many as 80,000. The Pentagon had maintained it only had a little over 30,000 troops in spare manpower however, so while President Obama’s escalation can be portrayed as a “compromise” the reality is it is about as large as the military could withstand. It will put America’s Afghan presence just over 100,000 troops, at a time when almost 120,000 troops remain in Iraq.