US to begin Afghanistan troop surge within 3 weeks
Christmas in Afghanistan for the troop surge.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced the surge in US forces fighting the Taliban, bringing the US troop presence there to almost 100,000 in a buildup officials hope will secure Afghanistan and allow US soldiers to start pulling out by the summer of 2011.
The first of 30,000 new US troops will arrive in Afghanistan in two to three weeks, top US officials said Wednesday, even as they made clear plans to start bring soldiers home in 18 months could slip.
US Army General David Petraeus, credited with using a similar troop surge and counter-insurgency strategy to pull Iraq back from the brink, told MSNBC the 18-month withdrawal timeline for Afghanistan was realistic but ambitious. “It will be very challenging. There will be nothing easy about it. There has been nothing easy. Afghanistan is hard and it’s hard all the time and we have our eyes wide open about that,” said Petraeus, who now commands US forces in the whole region.
Obama’s decision to launch the troop surge has set him up as the architect of a new phase of the 8-year-old Afghan war, adding $30 billion in costs in the coming year as the country struggles with record federal deficits, high joblessness and the on-going economic bailout.
Meanwhile, 30,000 families will bear the brunt of this decision and spend Christmas without their Dads, or sons.