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As Afghanistan Drawdown Approaches, Obama Faces New Political Landscape

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
President Obama’s upcoming announcement about how many troops he'll begin withdrawing from Afghanistan next month will vividly underscore how much the war debate has shifted, inside and outside Washington, since Obama announced the Afghan surge in December 2009.

Obama will unveil his troop withdrawal decision Wednesday, bringing an end to weeks of fevered speculation about the course of the deeply unpopular Afghan war. Senior military officials said in interviews Monday that they expect the president to endorse a “phased withdrawal” that would bring one combat brigade, or about 5,000 troops, home immediately and a second by the end of the year. The officers said they believed Obama will also commit to bringing back the remaining 20,000 surge troops by the end of 2012, though they expect to him to be deliberately vague about the timing of the final stages of the troop drawdown.


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