President Barack Obama plans to commit to sending 4,200 more troops and hundreds more civilians to Afghanistan in a speech at the White House on Friday morning, and also to embrace a new system of benchmarks to measure progress. “He’s gone all in,” said an official briefed on the plan. “This is Obama’s war. He’s pushed all the chips to the center of the table.” ...
Here are the elements Obama plans to announce:
- Military: The additional troops will help “provide capability for the Afghan government and military until they’re able to do it themselves,” an official said.
- Benchmarks: The president will embrace the notion of measuring progress. “We’re not going to pursue a policy indefinitely if it’s not working,” an official said. “We need to be able to judge it.”
- Accountability: With all this new money going into the war, the administration will fund more inspector-general-type accountability programs to ensure the money is efficiently and effectively spent.
- Civilian side: A significant increase in civilian capacity — “civic engagement” — is planned. Afghanistan may need more experts on rule of law to enhance the judicial system. The country needs more police trainers, agriculture experts, veterinarians and experts on water systems. “You have to have a bigger and better and less corrupt police force,” an official said. “We will apply more help and resources to the bottom-up government effort — provincial and district governments. We want more of a connection between governance and the people, so they can see the results of the governance and an alternative to the Taliban.”
- Pakistan: The U.S. will continue to work with Pakistan and help them realize that the terrorist threat to the U.S. is as much a threat to them. “We’ve got to help them develop the capacity to deal with it, which is difficult because they have issues with us being there and on the ground,” an official said. “That’s how you really develop their capacity.”
- Financial: The president will endorse an amendment by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that calls for additional foreign aid money for Pakistan, with strings attached with the goal of reducing terrorism.
- “Hearts and minds”: The administration recognizes the need to win the support of the people of Afghanistan. (more)