David Ignatius reports:
As one of the selling points of the plan to send an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, rather than the full 40,000 troops Gen. Stanley McCrystal requested, the president's aides touted the idea that the extra forces would be sent in the next six months, rather than over the full year that McChrystal originally thought necessary.
But a top military planner says the actual timetable will be closer to what McChrystal proposed.
I asked Lt Gen. David Rodriquez, the No. 2 US commander here, in a briefing tonight how long the deployment of the extra 30,000 would take. He answered that "it will happen between nine and eleven months," starting in January 2010. Which means that some troops might not arrive until November 2010.
The next month after that, December 2010, is when Obama plans to assess how well the troops are doing -- so he can decide how many to pull out when the withdrawal begins in July 2011.
I am up in the air on the issue of whether timetables do more harm than good, but this is another matter. It strains credulity to believe that we can know whether the surge is working after one month.