[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/01/art.afghan.gi.jpg caption=" US Marines search for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Helmand Province in Afghanistan"]Washington (CNN) - It's not often the Republican National Committee holds a conference call with reporters during which President Barack Obama is largely praised.
But amid news the president has decided to beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan by at least 30,000 within the next six months, the RNC deployed conservative foreign policy expert Dan Senor to offer accolades of the plan.
"I have been critical of the process over the last 90-some days through which the president has arrived at his decision, but it sounds to me, based on what we know, that it is a very good decision and I applaud him," said Senor, an adjunct senior fellow at the non partisan Council on Foreign Relations and a former advisor to the U.S. led coalition in Iraq.
"If you would have said to me that a year into this president's administration he would have doubled our troop presence in Afghanistan…plus not reduce our troops meaningfully in Iraq, and fire Gen. [David] McKiernan and replace him with Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal…I would have had a hard time believing it, I'm pleasantly surprised," Senor added.
Senor did say critical questions still need to be answered, including the role of NATO-led forces and the timeline of troop deployment, but he ultimately concluded, "I'm encouraged."
Of course, encouragement from Republicans and conservative foreign policy experts might not be what the president needs as he tries to convince members of his own party to support the plan, many of whom are wary of a further commitment.
A string of powerful Democrats have recently expressed doubts about a troop buildup, including Sen. Carl Levin, the chairmen of the Armed Services Committee, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.