17,000 more troops likely bound for Afghanistan

Wednesday, President Obama will be given Pentagon plans to rapidly increase the U.S. troop presence in the country; he's expected to approve them.

By Alex Koppelman

Published January 27, 2009 11:30PM (EST)

When President Obama visits the Pentagon on Wednesday, he'll be shown plans that could have thousands of U.S. additional troops heading to Afghanistan much sooner than anyone had expected. In fact, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that if Obama signs off, as many as 17,000 people could get their deployment orders by the end of the week.

It does seem likely that Obama will approve of the troop increase; he'd called for one during the presidential campaign. If he does, the first of three brigades could arrive by late spring, with the remaining two to follow during the summer. More might come later; in all, the top U.S. commander in the country has requested about 25,000 additional troops.

Gates also told the committee he doesn't expect any significant troop increases in Iraq.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Afghanistan Barack Obama Robert Gates War Room