Sources tell ABC News that as of now President Obama will likely announce his decision about a new strategy in Afghanistan at some point between the Afghan run-off election, November 7, and the president’s departure for Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, November 11.
There is a chance the announcement may be delayed until the president’s return from the Asia trip on Friday, November 20, but as of now the plan is to have the announcement in that window.
Sources emphasize that no decision has yet been made, but as of now it looks as though the president is leaning towards sending more troops to Afghanistan, though not as many as Gen. Stanley McChrystal requested, 40,000.
This isn’t a matter of the president looking to send fewer troops, they say, but more of a consideration of a range of options as alternatives to McChrystal’s strategy, options that do not require as many troops.
The strategy will be a mixture of counterinsurgency – which would include some elements of nation-building and partnering with the Afghan government — and counterterrorism, which is more focused on defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies.
In his meetings with his war council, the president is insisting on knowing what are achievable goals and what are the actual abilities of US troops — and most especially the Afghan government — to achieve those goals.