Obama said that if the new surge of American troops does not work, then "additional decisions" will have to be made "based on what the situation on the ground is."
"What we did, I think, was find that point where, having built up Afghan capacity, we're then in a position to start reducing our presence because we've built up a partner in the region that can work with us effectively," he said.
But Obama acknowledged that there are no guarantees that the strategy will work "perfectly" and said that no matter what success the U.S. sees in Afghanistan, there will still be problems with governance there and the challenges dealing with the Taliban and al Qaeda.
He said that if he were to only serve one term in office, he wants to hand off to the next president a more stable Afghanistan that does not require a "a perpetual occupation" by the U.S. military.
With the national debt now at a record $12 trillion, Obama soon will receive from Congress a spending bill that has more than 5,000 earmarks, pet projects for members, that will cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion.
Obama has pledged to reform the earmark process, but the White House has said he will not veto this bill when it gets to his desk.
Gibson asked him how he could sign the bill and at the same time claim to be serious about deficit reduction.
Obama said that raising taxes or cutting government spending next year would be wrong with the economy still "very fragile" and coming out of a recession, but his administration has to find ways to bring down the deficit in the mid- and long-term.
But when pressed by Gibson on why he would not just force Congress to drop the earmarks on this spending bill, Obama said, "There may come a point fairly soon in which we have to take that approach."
But he noted that changing the culture on Capitol Hill will not happen overnight.
"I mean, this is part of the challenge of democracy, is that, you know, I have to deal with 535 members of Congress of both parties who may in the abstract say, 'We hate government waste and government spending,' but when it comes to that project in their district, they think it's absolutely vital," the president said. "And so we are trying to change a culture here."