President Obama Meets With National Security Team on Afghanistan

Top general wants up to 40K more; Obama is keeping his deliberations quiet.

ByABC News
October 7, 2009, 12:13 PM

Oct. 7, 2009 -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal's troop recommendation for Afghanistan was sent to President Barack Obama last week and distributed Monday to members of the national security team engaged in ongoing discussions of Afghanistan strategy, the Pentagon said today.

Obama made the request for the troop recommendation so he could read the report over the weekend.

McChrystal, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, wants as many as 40,000 more troops for the mission, but the White House won't commit until it settles on a strategy, officials told ABC News.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was peppered with questions today about how distribution of the report squares with the administration's position that the troop request would not be on the table for discussion until after the strategy had been defined.

The troop request has not entered strategy-session discussions at this point, Morrell said.

"I think things can work in parallel in the sense that it can operate through the chain of command for formal vetting and comment and so forth," he said. "But, ultimately, it means, frankly, nothing until there is a decision made about the way ahead."

Instead of losing time while the review takes place, "I think the belief is, 'Let's work it through the chain of command as it should be and we can use that time towards that ends while this discussion, at a more macro level, takes place,'" Morrell said.

Of the request itself, Morrell said, it lists various options but ultimately makes one recommendation.

"This is a more analytical document ... as it's been described to me, which would, indeed, offer a range of options, but ultimately provide one recommendation from the field general."

Obama sat down with his national security team today as part of the ongoing high-stakes National Security Council meetings on future U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Today's meeting focused on Pakistan and Friday's meeting will be about Afghanistan.

An administration official said the meeting was "a comprehensive update on the situation in Pakistan."

"[The president] received a comprehensive intelligence and counterterrorism assessment, as well as an assessment of the political and diplomatic situation," this official said. "The president continues to look for ways to improve cooperation, and to continue disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda."

Those in the White House Situation Room this afternoon included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, among others.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was beamed in via satellite.