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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