President Barack Obama will lay out a new Afghanistan strategy on Friday that calls for more US troops and civilian officials and increased aid to combat militants along the ungoverned Pakistan border, officials said.
The final recommendations are still under wraps, but they also are expected to call for increasing Afghan security forces and bolstering the country's fragile local and national governments. The Friday rollout of the plan was confirmed by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the plan.
Obama vowed on Tuesday that the US will "stay on the offensive" to dismantle terrorist operations in Afghanistan. The much-anticipated new roadmap, as described by administration officials in recent days, is likely to stress that military might alone cannot win the war and that any strategy also must include a stronger partnership with Pakistan to tame the ungoverned border region.
The senior military commander overseeing NATO said on Tuesday that US officials will need to set benchmarks for progress in the war. But Gen John Craddock warned Congress that he has been stymied in his effort to find ways to gauge progress.
"Right now, our assessments of progress are anecdotal, and they vary daily, weekly," Craddock told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Under the administration's emerging strategy, Afghan security forces could grow to as many as 400,000, more than double the current total. At the same time, several hundred civilians from various US government agencies would used to reinforce the nonmilitary component in Kabul and the countryside. The military, meanwhile, would expand its counterinsurgency fight, in an effort to secure the far-flung villages, particularly in the south where the Taliban's roots are strong. There will also be a growing push for Pakistan to eliminate the swath of insurgent sanctuaries tucked along its mountainous border.