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President will review Afghan options

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September 2, 2009

President Barack Obama will likely take a key report on Afghan policy on vacation to Camp David Wednesday, the White House said, hitting back at claims it was moving too slowly to revamp war strategy.

The classified report by General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, is a long-awaited assessment of the war, which Obama has declared the most vital front in the US struggle against terrorism.

"I anticipate that the president will take some form of the McChrystal report with him to Camp David," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, referring to the presidential retreat in Maryland where Obama will resume his vacation.

McChrystal has already sent his strategic assessment to the head of US Central Command General, General David Petraeus, for comment en route to the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the US military said.

Gibbs said he had not read the report and added its contents were classified, but on Monday, McChrystal said the "situation in Afghanistan is serious but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve."

In a statement, he said his assessment seeks to implement Obama’s strategy "to reduce the capability and will of the insurgents, Al-Qaeda and transnational extremists" as well as develop Afghan forces and improve governance and development.

Gibbs also stressed Tuesday that the McChrystal report would not contain a request for more military or aid resources, adding that any such request would come separately in a matter of weeks.

The spokesman also told reporters he wanted to give everyone the "correct impression" of how much time the Afghan war takes up on Obama’s calendar.

He mentioned, for instance, a specific meeting in the secure White House Situation Room several weeks ago, which included a link-up to McChrystal and US ambassador Karl Eikenberry in Kabul.

"This notion somehow that there is no urgency in our dealing with Afghanistan, I don’t think could be further from the truth," he said.

"This is something that has been ongoing, quite frankly it started in the transition. The president has been dealing with the issue virtually every day."

On Monday, Gibbs warned that Obama’s new Afghan strategy will take time to show results, accusing the former Bush administration of neglecting the Afghan war.

The Pentagon dismissed McChrystal’s predecessor last May, calling for new thinking in Afghanistan to counter record numbers of attacks since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime.

Obama is due to head up to the Camp David retreat in Maryland on Wednesday. He will be resuming a vacation which started on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard last week but was repeatedly interrupted by political developments, and the death of his political mentor Senator Edward Kennedy.

4 Responses to President will review Afghan options

  1. woody188

    September 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    On Monday, Gibbs warned that Obama’s new Afghan strategy will take time to show results, accusing the former Bush administration of neglecting the Afghan war.

    Sound familiar? Bush Junior blamed Bill Clinton for letting the military deteriorate and victory was always just around the corner if we just hold out another day, week, month, year, and now DECADE. Obama is revealed to be more like Junior every day.

    Kind of idiotic blaming Bush when Robert Gates is still Secretary of Defense.

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  2. Doc_Holiday

    September 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    So how many vacation days does our elected ruler have anyway…ha ha

  3. CheckerboardStrangler

    September 3, 2009 at 1:57 am

    The tactics that have proven the most successful are the predator drones and the elite special forces.
    Send the troops home, beef up the supply of predator drones by a factor of one hundred and send in the special forces ready to hunker down for a ten year engagement.

    Costs less, works better and it will demoralize Al-Qaeda because it is a mirror being held up to them.

  4. woody188

    September 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Predator drones are very ineffective.

    “Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides [killing] 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.”

    Can you point out where the special forces have been effective in capturing or killing al-Qaeda forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan?

    I have been unable to find any al-Qaeda captives but lots of Kurds, Baathists, Shiites, Pashtuns, and Taliban.