US President Barack Obama has hopes that the increase of soldiers in Afghanistan now, will facilitate a troop pull out by 2013. In a much-anticipated speech tonight outlining his new Afghan strategy, Obama is expected make it clear that US deployment will not be open-ended.
A senior US official told reporters that the president has set the date of July 2011 for
US troops in Afghanistan to start coming home. However, he added, the pace and timeframe of a full exit strategy will depend on conditions on the ground.
Earlier Tuesday, a US official speaking on condition of anonymity announced that the president will send 30,000 additional troops to the Afghan front.
Obama has reportedly decided that trickling in extra troops over the next many years would be ineffective, and is therefore set to order a troop surge, the official said.
Obama already sent 21,000 troops in March this year to boost the existing 50,000-strong force. These additional 30,000 soldiers will bring the total number of US troops in Afghanistan to 100,000, doubling the US presence over the past year.
An estimated cost of up to 40 billion dollars
The new Afghan strategy will be announced in a live broadcast from the West Point military academy at 2am Paris time (GMT+1) on Wednesday. According to military experts, having an additional 30,000 US troops in Afghanistan is expected to cost between 20 and 40 billion dollars.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama will, however, offer a timeframe for reducing troop numbers in a war which is now in its ninth year. "Our time there will be limited," he said. "We're not going to be there in another eight or nine years."
Earlier, his administration reportedly called on allies, including France, to increase their troop presence in Afghanistan. However, French Defence Minister Herve Morin stressed on Tuesday that France is unlikely to send more troops to the war zone, preferring instead to concentrate on preparing Afghan security forces for a greater role in anti-insurgency operations.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro in October, French President Nicolas Sarkozy asserted that France would send "not a single soldier more" to Afghanistan. But on Tuesday the paper quoted an unnamed senior French official as saying Sarkozy might be open to reconsidering this position
On Monday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that the UK would boost its regular troops in Afghanistan by 500 to a total of 9,500 by the end of the year.