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First 100 days: Dispatching thousands

The AP: "Obama plans to dispatch thousands more military and civilian trainers to Afghanistan by the fall on top of the 17,000 combat troops he has already ordered, senior administration officials said Thursday. Obama's war strategy, which he will unveil today, includes no time line for withdrawal of troops. The war began more than seven years ago. The sources said Obama's goal is to stabilize Afghanistan and eliminate the terrorist havens that have taken root in Pakistan. They said the plan is built around benchmarks that will allow the President and Congress to check whether it is working."

The Washington Post says that the strategy isn't only about Afghanistan; it's also about Pakistan. "In outlining his plan after a two-month review that began the week of his inauguration, Obama will describe it as a sharp break with what officials called a directionless and under-resourced conflict inherited from the Bush administration. Far from al-Qaeda being vanquished and the threat to the United States diminished, the official said, 'seven and a half years after 9/11, al-Qaeda's core leadership has moved from Kandahar, in Afghanistan, to a location unknown in Pakistan . . . where we know they're plotting new attacks" against this country and its allies.'" 

"Obama plans to announce a "simple, clear, concise goal -- to disrupt, dismantle and eventually destroy al-Qaeda in Pakistan," said the official, one of three authorized to anonymously discuss the strategy. The president will describe his plan in a White House speech to a group of selected military, diplomatic and development officials and nongovernmental aid groups."

Bloomberg: "Obama also would support legislation to triple economic aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year in exchange for that country cracking down on Taliban and terrorists hiding out along border… The goal is to weaken and ultimately destroy al-Qaeda's havens and sanctuaries in Pakistan and prevent the terrorist group from returning across the border to Afghanistan, the officials said."

The New York Times on the benchmarks for Afghanistan: "Although the administration is still developing the specific benchmarks for Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said they would be the most explicit demands ever presented to the governments in Kabul and Islamabad. In effect, Mr. Obama would be insisting that two fractured countries plagued by ancient tribal rivalries and modern geopolitical hostility find ways to work together and transform their societies. American officials have repeatedly said that Afghanistan has to make more progress in fighting corruption, curbing the drug trade and sharing power with the regions, while they have insisted that Pakistan do more to cut ties between parts of its government and the Taliban."

More: "Setting benchmarks for Pakistan could be particularly difficult. For years, the United States has simply paid bills submitted by the Pakistani government for counterterrorism operations, even during truces when its military was not involved in counterterrorism. Pakistan has resisted linking its aid to specific performance criteria and officials acknowledged that developing those criteria could be problematic."

The Boston Globe: "Obama's decision to send additional US troops has drawn praise from many in Congress, who worried that the mission there suffered from neglect since 2003, as troops and resources flowed to Iraq, though some are wary. Last year, with 155 US military deaths in Afghanistan, was the bloodiest for US forces since the war began in 2001."