President Barack Obama plans to announce a redrawn battle plan for Afghanistan, including what the military says could be a roughly 50 percent increase in U.S. forces, in a national address Tuesday night from the U.S. Military Academy.
Although military and administration officials cautioned that Obama has not settled on a final figure, the military is planning for an increase of up to 35,000 troops begin next year. Military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the president's plans.
The addition forces would come atop a record 71,000 U.S. troops in the country now and would represent the largest expansion since the war began eight years ago.
Senior officials told the New York Times that Obama plans to lay out a time frame for winding down American involvement in the war.
It's accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion," said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. "He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down."
Obama will be speaking to a war-weary American public, with the Army's storied academy at West Point, N.Y., as a backdrop and cadets entering the service most stretched by two wars on hand. Polls show support for the war has dropped significantly since Obama took office, with a majority now saying both that they oppose the war and that it is not worth fighting.