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Obama may opt for sending fresh fewer troops to Afghanistan

Last Updated: Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 14:24

Washington: US President Barack Obama may
scale down the number of additional troops to be sent to
Afghanistan from the proposed 40,000 to 15,000 to quell the
recent surge by Taliban militants, a media report said Saturday.

Obama, who held the seventh Situation Room meeting
with top military officials at the White House to weigh
sending more troops to Afghanistan and chalk out a new Af-Pak
strategy, indicated that he would send at least 10,000 to
15,000 extra American troops, the Washington Post reported.

"Obama is expected to receive several options from the
Pentagon about troop levels next week", according to the two
officials, who attended the deliberations," the paper said.

Signs that Obama may be nearing a decision on sending
extra troops in Afghanistan are coming as leaks in the
newspapers are increasing.

"The President appears committed to adding at least
10,000 to 15,000 troops in Afghanistan in an effort to bolster
the training of Afghan Army and police officers. Current plans
call for the United States to double the size of the Afghan
Army and police forces to about 400,000 in the hope that they
can take over security responsibilities," it added.

The paper quoted an administration official as saying
that during the meeting each chief discussed the state of
their own service, how they are doing today and what the
long-term consequences will be for each of their services.

Besides Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the
meeting included Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral
Mike Mullen, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Earlier, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the
Af-Pak strategic review is nearing its conclusion. Though
today`s meeting was not the last meeting on the review
process, but no other meeting has been scheduled as of now.

"I think the President strongly believes that it`s
important for the American people and for the international
community to know his reasoning behind whatever decision he
makes, and to clearly explain our goals and objectives in
Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and the region as a whole," he said.

Others present at the meeting were General (rtd) James
Jones; General James E Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint
Chiefs of Staff; General George W Casey, Chief of Staff of
the Army; General James T Conway, Commandant, US Marine
Corps; Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations; and
General Norton A Schwartz Chief of Staff of the US Air Force.

Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor; John
Brennan, Assistant to the US President for Counter-terrorism
and Homeland Security and Lieutenant General Douglas Lute,
Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and
Pakistan also attended the meeting.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, October 31, 2009 - 14:24

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