Study on Afghan leaders to aid Obama troop decision

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US President Barack Obama has asked senior aides for an analysis of each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces to determine which regions are managed effectively by local leaders, The Washington Post reported today.
Obama’s advisers say the detailed study will guide his decision on how many additional US troops to send to Afghanistan, the newspaper said.

Administration officials said the province-by-province analysis will be ready for Obama before he meets tomorrow with top military commanders at the White House, the newspaper reported.

A White House spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the report.

US soldiers make up two-thirds of the 100 000-strong NATO-led force in Afghanistan. Obama is reviewing US strategy for Afghanistan, including a request from the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan to send an extra 40 000 troops.

The Washington Post said Obama requested the province-by-province analysis in a meeting with Vice President Biden and a small group of senior advisers helping him decide whether to expand the war.

The article cites administration officials as saying that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and national security adviser James Jones support Obama’s request for a detailed report on each province that could identify potential US allies among Afghanistan’s local leaders.

After reading McChrystal’s war assessment, the newspaper said, Obama and his senior advisers have concluded that the Taliban cannot be eliminated as a military and political force, regardless of how many more US troops are deployed.

The acknowledgment is behind Obama’s request for the analysis of which of Afghanistan’s provinces can be left to local leaders, according to the newspaper.