Matthew Hoh, a Senior Civilian Official in Afghanistan, Resigns Over U.S. Strategy

Speaking at the Naval Base in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, President Barack Obama stressed the importance of the issue and explained why, despite some criticism, he's taking his time to decide.

"I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way," the president told servicemen and women. "I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary. And, if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt. Because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission, the defined goals and the equipment and support you need to get the job done."

The president also acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead in the region.

Fourteen Americans died Monday in three helicopter crashes, with one involved in anti-drug operations, making it the deadliest day for U.S. casualties in Afghanistan in four years. On Tuesday, eight U.S. service members working with NATO security forces were killed and several people were injured in attacks in southern Afghanistan.

Obama will meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Friday to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the White House would only say today that the president is "in the process of evaluating where we are." Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president had seen Hoh's story but had not read his letter of resignation.

Administration officials will likely pay close attention to Hoh's letter, in which he says that even if the United States increased its commitment to the region, it would take years -- if not decades and generations -- and billions of dollars to achieve success. He also argues that the U.S. military presence contributes to the legitimacy of the insurgency, led by ethnic Pashtuns.

"To put simply, I fail to see the value or the worth in the continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war," the former Marine wrote in the emotional letter.

Hoh told reporters the benefits of engagement in Afghanistan doesn't outweigh the costs because there are so many threats on different levels.

"There are so many local groups, it's infinite," he said. "We are enmeshed in a civil war… stabilizing the government does nothing to defeat al Qaeda."

Hoh's message is one that may reverberate with troops on the ground. Many of them have told ABC News they do not believe they are in greater danger than during the Bush administration, but that morale is an issue and they want Obama to make a decision quickly.

The president will wait until after the run-off presidential election in Afghanistan Nov. 7, some analysts said.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released last week showed that 31 percent of Americans believe Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the situation in Afghanistan, while 63 percent think he does not.

And Americans' view of the war in Afghanistan may not be very far off from that of Hoh's. Nearly half of Americans surveyed, 47 percent, said the war has not been worth fighting, and 49 percent say more troops should not be deployed to Afghanistan.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is credited with giving Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai the push to accept a run-off election, said Monday that the U.S. mission should be more narrow and modest rather than the far-reaching, counter-insurgency strategy McChrystal has suggested.

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