A White House official speaking on background said the president will be accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama for a visit to Fort Stewart to greet troops, veterans and military families in Hinesville. No other details were available.
The president’s last visit to Georgia was to Atlanta last month to raise campaign funds at private events. It is a state he lost in 2008, but his campaign has said he will contest it this year for his re-election.
But next week’s visit is an official one as commander-in-chief. Soldiers based at Fort Stewart have played a leading role in U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His last visit to the Savannah area was in 2010.
Obama has begun pulling troops out of Afghanistan with the goal that they would only serve a supporting role next year to Afghani forces and would leave the country to defend itself entirely by 2014. His plan calls for shrinking troop levels to about 68,000 by the end of September from about 91,000 in Afghanistan now.
The president starts his week in his marshal role. Monday, he’ll give remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and tour it with Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eli Wisel. That day he’ll also host the Air Force Academy football team at the White House where he will present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy.
He hits the road Tuesday to visit colleges in North Carolina and Colorado, and Iowa on Wednesday to meet with student journalists and to urge Congress to block a hike in interest rates on student loans.
He’ll spend Thursday in meetings at the White House.
His Fort Stewart visit provides an opportunity for the president to try to shape news about his handling of the military in Afghanistan in light of recent events. His administration has been apologizing for the murder of 16 citizens there by an American soldier on a rampage, reports that copies of the Koran were burned and the recent revelation of 2-year-old photographs of soldiers posing with the maimed corpses of insurgents. Obama said this week he wants an investigation into the pictures.
His Republican rival Mitt Romney, the likely nominee, has been critical of the president’s military leadership, saying he should be more involved with military leaders. A visit with troops and their top brass could help deflate Romney’s attacks.