From Sunlen Miller:
Today President Obama will formally announce his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in a high –profile, high-stakes prime-time address at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
After nine formal national security meetings and after much deliberation, Mr. Obama will officially announce his strategy. On Sunday night, the president met with members of his national security team and “communicated his final decision on the strategy…and issued orders on the strategy’s implementation,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday.
But tonight’s speech, the White House says, is an opportunity for the president to communicate directly to the American people how and why he came about the decision to send around 30,000 new U.S. troops into Afghanistan and design a strategy based more on fighting terrorism than nation-building.
“I think the president will reiterate the importance of why we're there, but also, by all means, very early on, acknowledge the tremendous cost and sacrifice to our men and women in uniform,” Gibbs said Monday, speaking of the emphasis the president will likely put on the sacrifice of those fighting.
“ I don't think there's any doubt that we are all in awe of — of the commitment from our military and our civilian side in order to get this right,” Gibbs said.
During the day leading up to the speech, the president will be making another round of calls to foreign leaders and NATO members to discuss his new strategy – the White House said he will call Pakistani President Zardari, German Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Tusk of Poland and Prime Minister Singh of India.
Mr. Obama’s calls today follow his round of calls Monday with Afghan President Karzai, Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen, French President Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Brown, Russian President Medvedev and an in-person meeting with Australian Prime Minister Rudd.
The president and Vice President Biden will also meet with the a bicameral, bipartisan group of Congressional leadership in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to brief them on his war strategy.
“When the president sits down with Congress tomorrow afternoon, he will go through a series of detailed decisions that he has made and has been relayed to the chain of command,” Gibbs said.
Those invited Congressional leaders are:
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
• Representative Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader, D-Md.
• Representative John Boehner, Republican Leader, R-Ohio
• Representative James Clyburn, Majority Whip, D-S.C.
• Representative Eric Cantor, Republican Whip, R-Va.
• Representative Ike Skelton, Armed Services Committee Chairman, D-Mo.
• Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, R-Calif.
• Representative Howard Berman, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, D-Calif.
• Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member R-Fla.
• Representative David Obey, Appropriations Committee Chairman, D-Wisc.
• Representative Jerry Lewis, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member, R-Calif.
• Representative Nita Lowey, State & Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman, D-N.Y.
• Representative Kay Granger, State & Foreign Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member, R-Texas
• Representative John “Jack” Murtha, Defense Subcommittee Chairman, D-Pa.
• Representative Bill Young, Defense Subcommittee Ranking Member, R-Fla.
• Representative Silvestre Reyes, Intelligence Committee Chairman, D-Texas
• Representative Peter Hoekstra, Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, R-Mich.
Members of the U.S. Senate:
• Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader, D-Nev.
• Senator Dick Durbin, Majority Whip, D-Ill.
• Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader, R-Ky.
• Senator Jon Kyl, Republican Whip, R-Ariz.
• Senator Carl Levin, Armed Services Committee Chairman, D-Mich.
• Senator John McCain, Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, R-Ariz.
• Senator Daniel Inouye, Appropriations Committee Chairman and Defense Subcommittee Chairman, D-Hawaii
• Senator Thad Cochran, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member and Defense Subcommittee Ranking Member, R-Miss.
• Senator John Kerry, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, D-Mass.
• Senator Richard Lugar, Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, R-Ind.
• Senator Patrick Leahy, Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman, D-Vt.
• Senator Judd Gregg, Foreign Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member, R-N.H.
• Senator Dianne Feinstein, Intelligence Committee Chair, D-Calif.
• Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond, Intelligence Committee Ranking Member, R-Mo.
– Sunlen Miller