Joe Gandelman has pretty much covered the waterfront on this one.
So here is only one more perspective, from the New York Times.
Basically, President Obama outlined plans to further increase the presence of American forces in Afghanistan (4,000 more troops to train Afghan security forces on top of the 17,000 extra combat troops that he already has ordered to Afghanistan); increase aid to Pakistan to the tune of $1.5 billion every year over the next five years; and setting benchmarks to measure progress in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
On those benchmarks, according to the New York Times
Although the administration is still developing the specific benchmarks for Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said they would be the most explicit demands ever presented to the governments in Kabul and Islamabad. In effect, Mr. Obama would be insisting that two fractured countries plagued by ancient tribal rivalries and modern geopolitical hostility find ways to work together and transform their societies.
The $1.5 billion a year in aid to Pakistan would be used for strengthening its democratic institutions there and for basic infrastructure improvements such as building roads and schools.
Prominent Democrats expressed support for the President’s plans.
Reaction from Republicans was also favorable.
Republican Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine said:
“Today, the president presented Congress and the American people with an honest assessment of our strategic position in Afghanistan and underscored that America’s core mission must be redefined.” But added, that increased American aid must be “carefully targeted,” and that the Pakistan and Afghanistan must be pressured to do their part.
Interestingly, perhaps ominously, The Times adds:
All told, the 21,000 additional American troops that Mr. Obama will have authorized almost precisely matches the original number of additional troops that President George W. Bush sent to Iraq two years ago, bringing the overall American deployment in Afghanistan to about 60,000. But Mr. Obama avoids calling it a “surge” and resisted sending the full reinforcements initially sought by commanders.
The Times offers some more words of caution.
To read the full report, please go to the New York Times’ “Obama Unveils Afghan Plan to Add Troops and Set Goals.”
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.