Many of President Barack Obama’s top advisers on Afghanistan agree with military commanders that more troops are needed to reverse Taliban gains in the country’s east and south, U.S. officials said on Monday.
But there is wariness within the White House to another large-scale increase at a time when public support for the eight-year-old war against a resurgent Taliban is eroding, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Military commanders and administration and congressional leaders have held preliminary discussions about future troop options, including sending a second 5,000-member Marine Regimental Combat Team to southern Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold, participants said. This would boost the number of Marines in the country to 15,000-18,000 from just over 10,000.
The debate is expected to intensify after Monday’s long-awaited assessment of the war by U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
McChrystal called for the United States and its allies to change strategy, laying the ground for a likely request for more troops later, officials said.