Obama calls security meeting on Afghanistan

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2009 1:58 PM

President Barack Obama called his war council together Monday as he moves toward a decision on whether to add more U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he's not aware of any more such strategy sessions being scheduled, the latest signal that Obama is closing in on a revamped war strategy after several weeks of review. Gibbs said the soonest Obama would announce a decision would be next week.

Obama first called the high-powered national security team together in August as he began wrestling with a new plan for Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leadership is believed hiding. Monday's session would be the 10th to be held in the secure White House situation room.

Obama's discussion with his war advisers was expected to center on how and when any additional troops could be pulled back out of Afghanistan. Earlier this month, Obama rejected all of his war options in their current form, pushing instead for revisions to clarify when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, and under what conditions.

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Commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal has said more U.S. forces were needed to head off a U.S. failure in the fight against Taliban militants in Afghanistan. He has recommended about 40,000 additional troops.

Obama has given himself flexibility on the timing of his decision, saying he would announce it by year's end.