THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that President Obama will announce his decision about U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan this week—most likely Tuesday or Wednesday.
The president has apparently rejected his vice president’s recommendation that the U.S. move simply to counter-terrorism efforts and abandon the full civil-military counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan. THE WEEKLY STANDARD has further been told that Obama's drawdown could be as large as ten thousand troops this summer, another ten thousand early or mid-next year, and the rest of the surge forces by the end of 2012.
It therefore appears the president will ask U.S. troops to assume more risk—and will put the mission at greater risk—than General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought wise, by ordering a larger and quicker drawdown than they recommended. If this is the case, expect supporters of the mission to criticize the president for assuming more risk than is desirable, and to press the president to be open to reconsidering the second and third tranches of the drawdown now scheduled for 2012, making them dependent on conditions on the ground.