Washington Post claims White House ‘appears committed’ to sending up to 15,000 more soldiers
US President Barack Obama has asked the Pentagon for more options on troop levels in Afghanistan including sending less than the roughly 40,000 new soldiers requested, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Citing two unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the request came at Obama’s meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Friday.
The military chiefs have been largely supportive of a resource request by General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, that would by one Pentagon estimate require the deployment of 44,000 extra troops, it said.
But opinion among members of Obama’s national security team is divided, and he now appears to be seeking a compromise solution that would satisfy both his military and civilian advisers, the paper said.
The report said the president seeks a plan that would not require him to send as many troops. However, Obama “appears committed to adding at least 10,000 to 15,000 troops,” the Post added.
Obama is expected to receive several options from the Pentagon about troop levels next week, the report claimed.
Before determining troop levels, Obama must decide whether to embrace a strategy focused heavily on counterinsurgency, which would require additional forces to protect population centers, or one that makes counterterrorism the main focus of US efforts in the country, the paper said.
One option under review is a blend of the two approaches with an emphasis on counterterrorism in the north and some parts of western Afghanistan as well as an expanded counterinsurgency efforts in the south and east, it said.
Obama has also asked for a province-by-province review of the country to determine which areas can by managed effectively by local leaders, according to the report.