WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Wednesday will consider a new compromise plan for adding troops to Afghanistan that would deploy 30,000 to 35,000 new forces, including as many as 10,000 military trainers, over the next year or more.
The new scenario combines reinforcements for fighting Taliban insurgents with trainers aimed at rapidly increasing the size and capabilities of Afghan troops to take on more operations themselves. It wouldn't aim to eliminate the Taliban, but weaken it until Afghan forces can secure major population centers themselves.
The plan doesn't call for a surge like the one employed in Iraq but appears to be a compromise to those urging more troops -- and those backing Vice President Biden's go-slow approach
A senior military official said this so-called hybrid option is now drawing the most attention at the Pentagon. It will be considered along with options already proposed by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, when President Obama meets Wednesday with his war council at the White House.
Officials said Obama is now expected to unveil his new Afghanistan strategy shortly after he returns from a trip to Asia on Nov. 19.
The issue of troop levels has put Obama in a difficult position. Gen. McChrystal has argued that tens of thousands of additional troops are needed to successfully curb the Taliban's resurgence. But many Democratic lawmakers have signaled they don't support such a buildup, and the American public's support for the war has waned.
Officials briefed on the recent deliberations said two options still on the table are similar to scenarios laid out by Gen. McChrystal. One would send at least 40,000 soldiers, which the general has said is the minimum needed to conduct a counterinsurgency campaign. Another would increase U.S. forces by 10,000 to 20,000 troops. Gen. McChrystal has described that as a "high-risk" option, because his planners are uncertain it would achieve Obama's goals.