President Barack Obama has already sent his first orders as he prepares to spell out a new and expanded strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
At least one group of Marines will be deployed and in place by Christmas, the vanguard of a force numbering as many as 35,000 troops. It would bring the total size of the U.S. contingent to more than 100,000. CNN reports the first Marines sent are based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.
The president spent much of Monday briefing foreign allies on his decisions. Before placing a call to Britain's Gordon Brown, the prime minister announced an additional 500 U.K. troops would arrive in southern Afghanistan next month. That would bring the British force to 10,000.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Barack Obama held a lengthy video conference call to discuss the new U.S. strategy. The presidential palace said in a statement that the hour-long video conference occurred Tuesday morning. Karzai's office says the two leaders discussed in detail the security, political, military and economic aspects of the strategy.
Obama has said the strategy will put the U.S. "on a path toward ending the war," though he's not planning to offer an exact timetable in his speech from West Point Tuesday night. The White House says he'll make it clear that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended, and will put a fresh focus on training Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow American troops to leave.
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