Revealed: The secret details of Obama's Afghanistan plan

President Barack Obama’s long-awaited Tuesday speech on Afghanistan offers lots more troops to the military and some promising rhetoric for war skeptics. He will authorize between 30,000 and 36,000 new U.S. troops, depending on prospective NATO contributions, and an additional 10,000 more in a year if necessary, according to administration sources. Obama will stress that these and other moves to strengthen the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda should be seen as a boost to friendly Afghans and not as an open-ended American commitment…

General Stanley McChrystal, NATO’s commander in Afghanistan, asked for about 44,000 additional American troops on the ground. The 30,000-plus that Mr. Obama will approve is about the maximum that could actually be deployed to Afghanistan in the next 12 months. And if the general can clearly demonstrate he still needs more in a year, the president will signal his willingness to consider an additional 10,000. But that would be the limit, the end of it.

The strategy to govern the employment of these forces, Mr. Obama is expected to say, will be much like the counterinsurgency approach he originally approved back in March—the approach McChrystal reaffirmed in his recent “secret” leaked report. That means clearing areas and holding them with military force, followed by civilian and economic programs. He will also underline the anti-terrorist component of this strategy—namely the focus on attacking al Qaeda itself, a point stressed relentlessly by Vice President Joe Biden during the nearly two-month policy review…

Mr. Obama will also announce a change in the American goal—without calling attention to the new objective. His goal up to now has been to “defeat” al Qaeda. The new mission: to “dismantle and degrade” the terrorists.