Obama's Afghanistan plan calls for 4,000 more U.S. troops

ByABC News
March 30, 2009, 4:59 AM

WASHINGTON -- President Obama announced Friday a proposal to stem the worsening insurgency in Afghanistan by sending 4,000 more U.S. troops and additional civilian aid workers, while also increasing aid to neighboring Pakistan.

Obama said his objective is to suppress the spreading insurgency by placing more emphasis on building local governments, wooing the civilian population with aid and providing more help to the Afghan army instead of a deploying a large number of combat troops.

"The situation is increasingly perilous," Obama said. "It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Obama linked the success of the plan to coordination with other nations in the region, such as Russia, India and Pakistan, and with greater help from NATO allies in Europe.

Key elements of the plan include:

Sending the 4,000 new troops, who would train Afghan soldiers and police. The plan includes a goal of having 134,000 soldiers in the Afghan army, up from about 65,000 soldiers now. "That is how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our troops home," Obama said.

Adding the extra trainers is "an excellent idea," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama's Republican opponent for the presidency last year. "The Afghan army has to be dramatically increased."

Creating a standing network for talks between the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Our nations will meet regularly," Obama said, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates leading the talks.

Pushing for passage of two bipartisan congressional plans to provide more economic aid to Pakistan. One, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., would increase non-military aid by $1.5 billion a year for five years. The second, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., would create "opportunity zones" in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan where many Taliban insurgents now hide.