President Obama has enlarged the American war effort in Afghanistan by sending in 30,000 more troops. He will address the nation tonight to explain his new Afghan policy:
WASHINGTON — President Obama issued orders to send about 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan as he prepared to address the nation Tuesday night to explain what may be one of the most defining decisions of his presidency. Mr. Obama conveyed his decision to military leaders late Sunday afternoon during a meeting in the Oval Office and then spent Monday phoning foreign counterparts, including the leaders of Britain, France and Russia.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, declined to say how many additional troops would be deployed, but senior administration officials previously have said that about 30,000 will go in coming months, bringing the total American force to about 100,000.
On top of previous reinforcements already sent this year, the troop buildup will nearly triple the American military presence in Afghanistan that Mr. Obama inherited when he took office and represents a high-stakes gamble by a new commander in chief that he can turn around an eight-year-old war that his own generals fear is getting away from the United States.
The speech he plans to deliver at the United States Military Academy at West Point at 8 p.m. will be the first test of his ability to rally an American public that according to polls has grown sour on the war, as well as his fellow Democrats in Congress who have expressed deep skepticism about a deeper involvement in Afghanistan.
Mr. Gibbs told reporters at the White House that Mr. Obama would discuss in the speech how he intended to pay for the plan — a major concern of his Democratic base — and would make clear that he had a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war. “This is not an open-ended commitment,” Mr. Gibbs said.
Mr. Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan spoke for more than an hour Tuesday morning in a video conference, The Associated Press reported, quoting a statement issued by Mr. Karzai’s spokesman.
The administration was sending its special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, to Brussels on Tuesday to begin briefing NATO and European allies about the policy. He will be joined at NATO headquarters there on Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who will brief NATO foreign ministers in his capacity as the senior allied commander.
Meanwhile, NATO allies are, for the most part, staying out of the 2009 surge into Afghanistan:
He spoke for 40 minutes with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who signaled that France was not in a position to commit more troops. There are currently 3,750 French soldiers and 150 police officers in Afghanistan.
“He said France would stay at current troop levels for as long as it takes to stabilize Afghanistan,” said an official briefed on the exchange, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private diplomatic exchange.
Instead of troops, Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Obama that France was putting its focus on a conference in London sponsored by Germany and Britain to rally support for Afghanistan, officials in Washington and France said.
The French defense minister, Hervé Morin, publicly confirmed the French position on Monday, saying, “There is no question for now of raising numbers.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said Monday that Britain would send 500 additional troops to Afghanistan in early December, raising the number of British troops there to 10,000.