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WH: U.S. to begin Afghan exit in 2011

From NBC's Scott Foster
In an off-camera briefing with reporters, senior administration officials say the 30,000 U.S. troops that President Obama will announce he's deploying into Afghanistan will be in place by next summer and that by July 2011 U.S. forces will begin to withdraw from the country.

Two senior administration officials held a background briefing previewing the president's speech at West Point.

A senior administration official said the president chose an option which gets "more troops into Afghanistan FASTER than any option previously presented.

The official says Pentagon planners are still assessing how many combat brigades will be surged into Afghanistan -- possibly two or three (brigades are in range of 4,000 to 5,000 troops) -- with another brigade-size element committed exclusively to training.

That official adds, however, ALL of these additional U.S. forces will be required to take on a partnering role in order to build up the Afghan security forces.

The officials argued this strategy is not an "open-ended commitment," but cautioned that the withdrawal process beginning in the summer of 2011 will be "conditions-based."

That time-frame, one of the senior administration officials said, is valuable because it puts "pressure" on the Afghans to take responsibility for their own country.