Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 6-4 Cavalry prepare for patrol last month at a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan. About 36,000 U.S. troops are in the troubled nation.
By Bob Strong, Reuters
2/18/2009 10:04 AM
Obama’s war: Deploying 17,000 raises stakes in Afghanistan
By Susan Page and Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama, whose presidential ambitions were launched by his opposition to one war, moved Tuesday to expand the U.S. deployment in another.
In his first such action as president, Obama ordered an additional 17,000 combat troops to Afghanistan. His administration cast the move as an interim step to battle the resurgent Taliban, secure Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, increase security for summer elections and stem the decline in a war that the United States now risks losing.
More forces may follow: Gen. David McKiernan, who commands U.S. and NATO troops there, has asked for a total of 30,000 additional troops. That would nearly double the U.S. force.
Obama has ordered a broad-scale review of strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan — due back in about six weeks — before settling on a course ahead for the long term. Officials say he will revamp goals and lower U.S. expectations in a conflict that has proven to be more difficult and complicated than the war in Iraq.