Obama Will Speak from West Point

President heads to New York to deliver key Afghanistan address

By Kendra Marr and Mike Allen
|  Friday, Nov 27, 2009  |  Updated 8:32 AM EDT
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Obama Will Speak from West Point

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President Obama's long-awaited strategy for Afghanistan will be unveiled Tuesday night.

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President Barack Obama will deliver Tuesday's address on Afghanistan policy at 8 p.m. Eastern time from the United States Military Academy at West Point, the White House said Wednesday.

The setting allows the commander-in-chief to talk directly to future officers as he announces a troop buildup in the eight-year war.

Obama’s remarks will include a path to withdrawal. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in announcing the speech: “We are in year nine of our time in Afghanistan. We’re not going to be there another eight or nine years."

"This is not one country or one region's problem alone," Gibbs said. He declined to share any new information about plans for Obama to meet with his commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, telling reporters: "We'll have more on that later."

Acknowledging the cost of the war, Gibbs emphasized: "It is very, very, very expensive." And he hinted at high expectations for the Karzai administration in Afghanistan.

"There has to be a new chapter" in the Afghan government, Gibbs said, “and that's something the president will talk about on Tuesday."

McChrystal and other Cabinet and military officials are scheduled to testify about the president’s new policy on Capitol Hill later next week. 

Administration officials expect Obama to announce a surge of 20,000 to 40,000 troops, bringing U.S. forces to roughly 100,000, from today's 68,000.

Aides expect Obama to acknowledge that it may be frustrating that while there are small prospects for a clear victory, failure would mean a lawless country in which al Qaeda could operate unchecked.

In his speech, Obama is likely to point to the benefits of the build-up for U.S. national security, and for fighting terrorism around the world.

Obama will bill his plan as comprehensive —much more than troops — and will point to cooperation from U.S. allies, new demands on the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and extensive civilians aides.

The president has insisted that the plan include metrics for measuring progress, and "off-ramps" allowing a course correction if the Afghan government does better or worse than expected.

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