After much deliberation, President Obama will send 34,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to bolster forces sent there eight years ago following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
On Monday, Obama met with high-ranking administration officials; a day later, he announced that he would unveil his detailed plans for the region after Thanksgiving.
Part of that plan, knowledgeable sources told CNN, involves the deployment of three U.S. Army brigades, totaling about 15,000 troops; a Marine brigade with about 8,000 troops; a headquarters element of about 7,000; and between 4,000 and 5,000 support troops -- a total of approximately 34,000 troops, according to a defense official with direct knowledge of Pentagon operations.
Eight months ago, Obama sent 20,000 troops to Afghanistan to join the 48,000 who were already there.
Over the past several weeks, the president has been severely criticized by conservative lawmakers and pundits for not ordering the deployment of at least 40,000 more troops months ago, as requested by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. According to McChrystal, the troops were necessary to counter the rapidly strengthening Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist militia that sponsored the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon in 2001.
Obama has stood firm, saying that any decision on troop deployment or other matters relating to the future of the Afghanistan war would come only after long, careful consideration.
On Tuesday, he met with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, among the other senior officials in the meeting.
Obama said Tuesday that his deliberations with them have been "comprehensive and extremely useful."
"It's going to be important to recognize that in order for us to succeed there, you've got to have a comprehensive strategy that includes civilian and diplomatic efforts," he said at a news conference Tuesday with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Also under the president’s plan, NATO would be asked to contribute more troops, CNN reports. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed this with CNN.
"Clearly, if the president decides to commit additional forces to Afghanistan, there would be an expectation that our allies would also commit additional forces," Morrell said.
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