President Barack Obama will announce the withdrawal of 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year, and another 20,000 troops, the remainder of the 2009 'surge,' by the end of next summer, administration officials say.
The pullout plan, expected to commence in July, is close to a plan Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had recommended, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The president is scheduled to speak about the Afghanistan war from the White House at 8 p.m. EDT, addressing a war-weary nation filled with economic worry. The planned schedule would give the military two warm-weather fighting seasons - when Taliban attacks generally rise - before reducing U.S. forces to pre-escalation levels, or nearly 70,000 troops.
Obama decided the pace of the U.S. drawdown Tuesday and informed his national security team in the Situation Room, an administration official said, though defense officials said they weren't certain of the final decision.
The White House wouldn't confirm any details.
The speech, to be 10 minutes in length, will not delve deeply into U.S. policy in the region, but will lay out for Americans a goal for winding down America's role in the war, the senior administration official said.
There are currently 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 30,000 of which are considered part of the president's 2009 surge to stabilize the country. When President Obama announced the soldier increase, he said that additional forces will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.
Obama promised to start bringing U.S. troops home by next month, and he has been in the process of deciding the number of troops. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president's decision would be motivated by an assessment of the success of the mission to this point.
There has been significant progress in disrupting, or halting, the momentum of the Taliban, and significant progress in stabilizing Afghanistan and the government to allow Afghan national security forces to build up, to train and prepare for taking over the lead, Carney said. So he looks at this decision as a part of a process, of a policy he put in motion.