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29 Nov, 2009 04:04

To the point – to the hilt

President Barack Obama has committed 9,000 U.S. Marines to spearhead a new troop surge strategy in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.

The paper quotes senior U.S. administration officials as saying the Marines will be deployed in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold, in the first wave of a 30,000-troop surge.

1,000 military instructors will follow the Marines. The approximate date of contingent expansion is set for February 1, 2010. At the moment, the number of American servicemen in Afghanistan has reached 68,000 – without the mercenaries of private security companies, whose numbers match or exceed the official contingent.

The President will unveil his strategy to U.S. Military Academy cadets in a nationally televised live address from West Point, New York on Tuesday night.

This speech comes after months of fierce debate inside the White House – as well as criticism from the U.S. and abroad – about whether more foreign troops can help stabilize Afghanistan.

Earlier, ISAF Commander General Stanley A. McChrystal demanded 35,000-40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, suggesting that without them NATO coalition in Afghanistan might lose the war against the Taliban.