President Obama has been briefing his army commanders and other world leaders on his future strategy for Afghanistan.
The president is expected to make a televised address on Tuesday evening to explain his decision to the American public. He will try to reassure Americans that although more US troops will be deployed, they will not be there indefinitely. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested as much at a press conference in Washington: “This is not an open ended commitment. We are there to partner with the Afghans, to train the Afghan national security forces, the army and the police, so they can provide security for their country and wage the battle against an unpopular insurgency in that country,” said Gibbs. Obama is thought to have settled on deploying 30,000 more soldiers to fight the Taliban insurgency but many Afghans want more than just a larger US military presence. As Shokria Barekzai, a member of the Afghan parliament, put it: “What is really important is that they should work on both the military side and civilian side; a military operation and at the same time increasing humanitarian aid and assessment for Afghans. That can help security as well.” The US will also want further commitments from its allies. Britain announced yesterday it will send 500 more troops, while Italy has also indicated it will boost its presence. But analysts say other NATO members may need much more persuading.