US President Barack Obama is dispatching 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, accelerating a risky and expensive war buildup, even as he assures Americans that US forces will begin coming home in July 2011. The first new Marines will join the fight by Christmas.
Obama was to unveil Tuesday evening his plans in a long-anticipated, high-profile speech broadcast from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in what could become a defining moment of his presidency and a political gamble that may weigh heavily on his chances for a second White House term.
It represents the beginning of a campaign to restore support for the war effort among an American public grown increasingly pessimistic about success - and among some fellow Democrats in Congress wary of or even opposed to spending billions more dollars and putting tens of thousands more US soldiers and Marines in harm's way.
A new survey by the Gallup organization, released Tuesday, showed only 35 percent of Americans now approve of Obama's handling of the war; 55 percent disapprove.