Obama Approves More Troops for Afghanistan

In a Sunday night meeting, President Obama authorized the Pentagon to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

In a nationally televised speech Tuesday night, he is expected to stress that buildup comes with an exit strategy. But, as Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution says, the fact is the United States is going deeper into an eight-year-old war.

"When you add 30,000 more troops, you're investing even more in the war. And it's nice to talk of exit strategies and it's smart and it's useful, but the essence of the near-term decision is more American commitment, not less," O'Hanlon said.

Thirty thousand more troops would be 10,000 fewer than Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, requested. The president hopes to make up at least some of the difference with contributions from NATO allies, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin.

"I think NATO will come through with a couple thousand and so I think we'll still be somewhat short of what Gen. McChrystal proposed," O'Hanlon said.

It's now up to McChrystal to decide exactly how the 30,000 will be used.

The commandant of the Marine Corps said his troops will among be the first in - about 9,000 into the Taliban heartland in Southern Afghanistan. Aides to McChrystal say the rest of the buildup will consist of two combat brigades from the Army plus trainers for Afghan forces and support troops to construct all the new facilities that will be needed.

It will take upwards of a year to get them all there, but when the buildup is complete, the United States will have nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, concentrated in the South and East of the country where the insurgency is the strongest. The North and West will have to wait for NATO to send more troops.

"My best guess is the North and West of the country continue to fester a little bit more than we would like," O'Hanlon said.

President Obama has said that he intends to finish the job in Afghanistan, but that is not likely to happen during his first four years.
  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.

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