Friday, March 27, 2009

Good News From the Obamanation

I like this idea. It looks like Obama really does intend to take the war to Pakistan to some limited degree.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will deploy 4,000 extra troops to train Afghan security forces in a revamp of its Afghan strategy that aims to disrupt al Qaeda and roll back the advances of the Taliban, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

President Barack Obama will unveil the new strategy on Friday, some 60 days after he ordered a review of the U.S. policy in Afghanistan, where he criticized his predecessor, George W. Bush, for allowing security to deteriorate.

For the first time, the U.S. strategy will focus on Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, where the Taliban has safe havens in tribal areas along the border, as a single problem, three senior Obama administration officials said in a briefing for journalists before the announcement.

The 4,000 trainers will be in addition to the 17,000 soldiers Obama has already ordered sent to Afghanistan, where attacks by Taliban militia have pushed violence to its highest level since U.S.-led forces invaded in 2001.

The officials said that al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, were believed to be in an unknown location in Pakistan plotting fresh attacks on the United States and its allies. U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban for harboring al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The officials said the new strategy had a narrowly focused goal -- to disrupt, dismantle and eventually destroy al Qaeda's sanctuaries in Pakistan and its support network and prevent it from establishing safe havens in Afghanistan.

"For the first time, we are approaching this problem as two countries -- Afghanistan, Pakistan -- but one challenge and one theater for our diplomacy and our reconstruction efforts to work in. We see this as an integrated problem," said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As part of an aggressive regional diplomatic effort, the United States will engage India, Russia, China and Iran, the officials said.

The officials said an announcement would be made at NATO'S 60th anniversary summit next week on NATO member states sending more troops to Afghanistan for elections due in August.

Obama briefed Afghan and Pakistani officials on the new strategy but told them there would be "no blank checks" for the two countries, the officials said.

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