Politics

Obama to Make Prime Time Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Announcement; Numbers Likely to be Modest

President Obama will address the nation Wednesday night to announce his decision on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan next month, the White House said Tuesday. The address will take place at the White House at 8pm and will be carried live on Fox News Channel.

While the White House won't preview the president's plan, which is expected to be revealed Wednesday, Fox News has learned from sources outside the White House that number will likely amount to fewer than 10,000 troops by the end of the year.

The president's military advisors have laid out a variety of options for him as he settles on the scope and pace of the drawdown, fulfilling a promise to begin withdrawal in July that he made in 2009. Back then, the president had infused some 30,000 so-called "surge" forces into key areas of Afghanistan, a move which he stated was only temporary.

While there are no expectations that the president will remove all of the surge forces in the short run, Mr. Obama's military advisors gave him the option of removing as many as 10,000 troops by the end of this year. However, a source describes that as likely the "high water mark."

As the 2012 presidential election nears, Mr. Obama is under pressure from supporters to make a bigger statement about closing out the war by bringing a larger chunk of the US fighting force home from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, military officers are concerned about the potential for a security vacuum which could undermine gains there.

Sources tell Fox News the bigger issue is the speed with which troops come out. Military commanders, Fox is told, would like to see the surge forces stay until the fall of 2012 to give them two sustained fighting seasons -- the current one, and next summer.

But, according to these sources, Vice President Biden and some of the President's key advisors would like to see all of the surge troops removed by July 2012.

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.