Obama exploring options to send fewer than 40k troops to Afghanistan

The president and his national security team are investigating options to dispatch fewer troops to Afghanistan than Gen. Stanley McChrystal first requested.

Although McChrystal, the ground commander, has long asked Obama for a new deployment of about 44,000 troops, the president's national security team remains skeptical of that idea -- and at odds with some Pentagon officials, who believe McChrystal's approach is correct, according to The Washington Post.

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A meeting between White House officials and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday illustrated those differences in opinion, the Post also reported. That session -- the first of its kind since the strategy discussions began -- concluded with the president's request for more information, and another meeting, about troop scenarios and recommendations. 

Ultimately, it is still unclear when Obama might announce his decision -- an uncertainty that has only emboldened the president's Republican foes, who have accused him of dithering. The White House, however, has routinely shot back at GOP critics that the previous administration is to blame for any delay, adding the president would continue his strategy talks for as long as it takes to ensure he pursues the right course of action in Afghanistan.

At the very least, the Post article on Saturday did predict the president seems ready to commit roughly 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan, mostly to help train local officials and bolster the state's security forces. A committed force of a larger size would suggest the president has shifted his thinking from counter-terrorism, which requires fewer troops, to counter-insurgency, which McChrystal favors.