An announcement by the US president is anticipated before the meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels on December 3.
American officials suggest a combination of US and European troops, amounting to a total reinforcement of some 35,000, is the likely move. That is fewer than the 40,000 troops General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, requested in the summer to curb the Taliban insurgency.
Republicans have accused Obama of dithering. Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, argues that the delay in reaching a decision on Afghan strategy is creating uncertainty within the military, as the insurgency in Afghanistan continues to worsen.
At the Halifax International Security Forum, which ends today, McCain said that “many of our young soldiers were wondering why there’s this delay”.
Brown agreed to the reinforcement, which will take British numbers to 9,500, on the condition that each ally bears its “fair share”.
The Georgians have agreed to send 1,000 extra troops, the Turks 500-600 and Slovakia is doubling its contribution to 250. Tomorrow Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general, will travel to Poland in the hope of raising more there. “This is not just America’s war — the Europeans have doubled their contribution in the past 20 months from 18,000 to 36,000 and the secretary-general is confident there is more to come,” his spokesman said.
Germany, Italy, Turkey, France and Romania — all of which have forces in Afghanistan — are under pressure to send at least a battalion of between 500 and 1,000 troops each, although Germany has insisted on waiting for the outcome of a conference on Afghanistan in January.