Washington (CNN) - There is an overriding theme to Sen. Carl Levin's acceptance of President Obama's expected announcement that the United States will be sending upwards of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan: The chairman of the Armed Services Committee thinks the president's Tuesday night message to the nation must "connect the dots" between the added cost in American lives and a willingness of Afghan soldiers to start taking over more of the fighting.
"The nation's going to want to hear why this mission is important, (and) what is the relationship between any additional troops and success in Afghanistan," Levin told CNN.
"...If there's going to be additional [U.S.] troops, which obviously there are, what is the relationship between additional troops and increasing the size and capability of the Afghan army?"
Levin indicated he had been in contact with President Obama about the pending strategy shift late last week.
The Michigan senator echoed other congressional Democrats who said Sunday that the shortfall, especially in southern Afghanistan, is not in U.S. troops but in Afghan forces.
Levin denied that his comments represented a shift from earlier statements expressing concern over the idea of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. "What I have said is that I do not believe we should send more combat forces at this time. That's been my position" - but that he defined "combat forces" as U.S. troops "doing the fighting without an Afghan partner." In other words: additional U.S. forces should specifically train and upgrade the capability of the locals in the fight against the Taliban.
Levin said he believes the president will be "laying out milestones that need to be met" by Afghanistan's civilian government and military, as well as U.S. personnel.
"We cannot be there in an open-ended way. The president recognizes that. ..... We cannot defeat the Taliban. Only the Afghans can defeat the Taliban with our help, and NATO's help."
As calls continue for a war "surtax" to pay for the effort - which is estimated to cost about a million dollars per each additional U.S. service member, Levin is not in favor an across-the-board increase. Put forth most prominently by Rep. David Obey, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the surtax would be universal.
Levin and many Senate Democrats favor specifically increasing taxes on those making $250,000 or more per year. "They're the only group that really did well during the Bush years.... We cannot impose a war tax in the middle of a recession on middle-income folks. I just don't think it's the proper thing to do."
Levin: Obama needs to 'connect the dots' Tuesday