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Obama To Approve Plan For 30,000 More Afghan Troops, Report Says

Up to 30,000 more U.S. soldiers may be headed for Afghanistan soon.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama intends to sign off on Pentagon plans to send up to 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help buy time for the new administration to reappraise the war effort, "The Washington Post" has reported.

The incoming administration does not anticipate that the new deployment would significantly change the direction of the conflict, the newspaper said.

Obama campaigned on a promised to "finish the job" in Afghanistan and said he would increase the U.S. military presence there. However, since the November election, he has been flooded with dire assessments of the war, the "Post" said.

"We have no strategic plan. We never had one," the newspaper quoted a senior U.S. military commander as saying about the Bush years.

Obama's first order of business will be to "explain to the American people what the mission is" in Afghanistan, the official told the newspaper.

Senior Obama team members and Bush administration officials interviewed for the article spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the presidential transition, the "Post" said.

A retired senior officer with long Afghan experience and ties to the Obama team was quoted as saying that they were going to have to agree on a set of options and a decision on a single strategy.

"It's going to require a much more complex assessment by Obama," the source said.

The new administration says it will not be rushed into a decision on Afghanistan.

"We are taking a long, hard look at these issues now," a transition adviser told the newspaper.

The parameters for a new strategy were unlikely to emerge before early April, when Afghanistan and Pakistan will top the agenda at a NATO summit in France, the "Post" said.

By presenting NATO with a comprehensive plan and demonstrating the leadership to implement it, Obama hopes to capitalize on his popularity in Europe with requests for increased military and financial contributions, the "Post" reported.

"What they've got to say is, 'OK, if you love Obama, show us how much,' " another retired senior military officer was quoted as saying.