October 7th, 2009
04:40 PM ET
13 years ago

Afghan discussion to include talk about troop levels

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/28/afghanistan.obama/art.afghanistan.gi.jpg caption="In an unusual move, the president asked for and received the 'informal' request by the top commander in Afghanistan."]
WASHINGTON (CNN)– President Barack Obama's national security team will begin discussing the number of troops needed in Afghanistan as early as this Friday, according to a White House spokesman.

In an unusual move, the president asked for and received the "informal" request by the top commander in Afghanistan which outlined how many more troops and resources Gen. Stanley McChrystal needed to implement his preferred Afghanistan strategy, the Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday. Obama received the request on Thursday, a day before he met with McChrystal in Copenhagen.

The discussion of troop levels appears to be a departure from the administration insistance that the Afghanistan strategy must be decided before any resources can be considered. The White House's spokesman said the introduction of troop levels did not mean resource levels were being decided first.

"One has to develop and get the strategy before one can figure out the resources one needs to get it," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "We are not pre-judging the outcome of the discussion based on some range of resources."

As part of the strategy review, some discussion of resources is necessary, a senior US official said.

"We are now working on what are called the resource options piece. It's actually resourcing the strategy, and that is about to be introduced into the discussion here as well," he said.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of Central Command had hinted at this during a Tuesday speech in Washington.

"All participants recognize that, at the appropriate moment, the level of resourcing required has to be discussed as a component of the decision-making process. And that moment is just about upon us," the official said.

The White House insisted there is no change in approach.

"The president is very content not to do this backwards. Not to pick a number of troops and devise a strategy but to go through this in a rigourous way," Gibbs added.

In preparation, the chiefs of staff for the four services held an hour-long meeting on Tuesday to give Adm. Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their views on Afghanistan and the impact of sending more troops, two Defense Department officials said.. Adm. Mullen is attending the White House meetings.

The president's receipt of the informal version of the resource request - before it had been reviewed and commented on by McChrystal's superiors, including Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - is a departure from the traditional process. The principals involved in the president's review of Afghanistan strategy were given the same document on Monday, spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

The Pentagon's spokesman said the move was not an attempt to circumvent the chain of command and it is not an indication that a strategy has been settled on.

"Let's work it through the chain of command as it should be and we can use that time towards that ends while this discussion, at a more macro level, takes place," Morrell said at a Pentagon press conference.


–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Ken from missouri

    Why can't we just go take the taliban out and not rebuild their country,because we need to rebuild our own country and can't the afghan people do it are they helpless.

    October 7, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. m smith

    The repos don't mind spending money on a war. Thats par for the course. They want to jump right in no questions asked. Im am glad the president is asking questions and taking his time before commiting more men. Im sure he will make the best discission possiable under the circumstances. But he will not get any cudos for it only more negitive comments from the party of NO except when it comes to war!!!

    October 7, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. Gold Star Father

    My son was KIA in Afghanistan under Bush's watch. One thing that has always bothered me is that there never seemed to be any startegy or plan for Afghanistan. They were just out there trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people while picking fights with the Taliban. If there was a more strategic plan, it was not clear to me what it was, nor did there seem to be a tactical plan for winning the war.

    It seems to me that the Obama administration is putting more thought into the decisions being made about Afghanistan. I am glad that they are putting some thought into it and I pray that they come up with a workable strategy and they get it right.

    October 7, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. Duck Fallas

    I have a two sentence statement for you:

    1. You're a moron.

    2. We ALREADY let al Queda & the Taliban resume activities there.

    Personally, I'd rather we nuke the place, but the father of my grandchildren is there.

    October 7, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. DJ

    Strategy? what's that? The Republicans should shut-up and quit their games...also Move-on needs to get a clue and back-off with their meddling. Let the President do his thing already.

    October 7, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  6. The real decision, when to be honest.

    On 911 we were attacked by a bunch of Psychotic killers.

    We have since strengthened them , made hero's of them and killed ALOT of innocent people because of them.

    It is said that you can count on America to do the right thing , once they've exhausted every other option......lets hope all options are finally exhausted......and we can turn this into the legal matter it always was.

    There is no WIN.......there never was.......you were just told that, and didnt know any better. It was about something else, that is being revealed.

    About the 30 year rollercoaster ride the Neo-cons and Republicans have taken us on, its about the failure of a free press, the failure of a Congress the failure of Democrats and career politicians, its about the failure of a Nation........to stop the insanity.

    Gen. McCrystal, Mr. President, Congress and the Senate......have we exhausted all the options......can we begin to focus on Doing the right thing?

    October 7, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  7. Independant Vet

    First you have a Comander an Chief , that Yak's , when he should be listening. He ( Barrack ) has played too many Vidio Games . Has no understanding of war. Why don't he go over there on the front line's an gather up body parts just one day. Smell the roasting of flesh . an gun powder. . Dig a Fox Hole in Rock . See if he would change his mind and decide to stay a week. Maybe threw all that , he may come to realize , when some one ask's for more man power , they may get what they need. Or is Chicken Little going to raise the White Flag. And come home with the Quarm.

    Other wise one day he will look out on the front Lawn an what will he do , when he has to look down the Barrel of a Cannon. Phone Pelosi an ask for a recount.

    Maybe to awaken him , every fallen Military Person that comes back , passes the White House Door .

    October 7, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
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