President Obama pushed hard to move up the deployment of the 30,000 new US troops being sent to Afghanistan to get them on the ground within six months, administration officials told ABC News Tuesday.
A senior Army official told ABC News' Martha Raddatz that he could not imagine how that would happen, and that if the troops did arrive that fast, "they will be living in tents."
In anticipation of President Obama's address to the nation on his new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials began providing new details of Pentagon plans, including the deployment of troops to population centers in Eastern Afghanistan, such as Khost, and Southern Afghanistan, such as Kandahar.
Administration officials sought to portray the twenty or so members of the president's "war council" — which include Cabinet officials such as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pentagon officials such as Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus and Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal — as united on the new policy, with the three-month review process having created consensus as individual problems and questions were addressed and common assumptions challenged.
"We worked together to narrow divides," an administration official said.
During that process, officials said, the president "ordered up nearly three-dozen intelligence products. It was a deep dive into who the enemy is, what their capacity is, and what would happen under various hypotheticals."
One issue that arose in discussions was the need to have more boots on the ground as soon as possible. An original assessment that it would take the 30,000 new troops a year to fully deploy was, upon urging by the president, changed to six months, officials said.
US forces will seek to degrade Taliban forces both through combat and by enticing low level Taliban fighters to re-join Afghan society, including through employment in government security forces.
As has been happening to a larger degree since McChrystal took command in Afghanistan earlier this year, American troops will embed within Afghan units, and US units will partner with Afghan units and fight alongside them. More US troops will allow more embedding and partnering.