Obama Opts for Limited Surge in Afghanistan

Nov. 30: A large U.S. Army vehicle convoy near the town of Maidan Shar in Afghanistan. (AP)

Nov. 30: A large U.S. Army vehicle convoy near the town of Maidan Shar in Afghanistan. (AP)  (AP2009)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has ordered a revamped war plan for Afghanistan that appears to endorse the military strategy of his top generals but will set limits on U.S. involvement in terms of duration, manpower and money, White House officials said Monday.

After a three-month review, the president delivers a televised prime-time address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Tuesday to publicly define his plan for the war. He is widely expected to announce he's committing around 30,000 new troops to fighting the Taliban. Eight U.S. allies also have committed to sending additional troops, which could total some 5,000, according to European and U.S. officials.

Aides familiar with the new policy insist that Obama hasn't ended up where he started his review, planning for an an open-ended escalation. He will lay out benchmarks for the U.S. and Afghan governments to meet on the recruitment and training of Afghan security forces, as well as on rooting out corruption that has bedeviled the country.

Obama isn't expected to set a firm date for completion of the Afghan mission, as the U.S. has in Iraq, where the American withdrawal is now governed by a treaty. At the same time, a White House official said Obama would lay out specific goals for the new troops, time frames for achieving those goals and an explicit pathway toward ending the war.

A senior White House official said the speech Tuesday won't be primarily about escalating the war in Afghanistan, but about ending it.

Obama is expected to spell out the benchmarks the U.S. will use to measure success -- including, for instance, the establishment of anticorruption tribunals -- and will signal U.S. aid could be tied to meeting those goals, according to officials. "You will hear the president express clearly that this is not open-ended," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

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