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UPDATE, 3:18:A senior Pentagon official said today that he expects Obama to endorse a “phased withdrawal” that would bring home one combat brigade – 5,000 troops – this summer and another by the end of this year, the National Journal reports.
The military expects Obama will be intentionally vague about the pace of the withdrawal.
Senior military officials, including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan, have asked for a slower withdrawal, arguing that more troops are needed to maintain U.S. gains against the Taliban.
Many in the intelligence community, on the other hand, believe the military’s gains in Afghanistan are overstated and that the U.S. has done little to diminish the Taliban’s resolve to fight.
Democratic support for the war has virtually disappeared in Congress. A number of Republicans – included Obama’s potential 2012 challengers – have also called for a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama will announce tomorrow a timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, a long-awaited decision that will determine the future course of the increasingly unpopular war.
Despite the looming deadline, the Washington Post reports that the administration still hasn’t decided on the final numbers for the withdrawal, scheduled for July. Officials said the number will likely be between 3,000 and 5,000 in July. The president is also expected to lay out a schedule to draw down the 33,000 “surge” troops between now and the end of 2012.
The announcement comes as Americans grow increasingly weary of the decade-long war. A recent opinion survey from The Hill shows an overwhelming number of voters – 72% – think the U.S. is involved in too many foreign conflicts and should pull back troops.
The poll found that 37% of voters think the U.S. war in Afghanistan has no impact on national security, while 17% said they think the war is making the U.S. less safe.
20-eight per cent of Republicans surveyed said involvement in Afghanistan has had no effect on U.S. security, and 14% said the war has made the country less safe.
U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw fully from Afghanistan by 2014. Many voters – 41% – said that timetable is too slow.
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