Gibbs says Obama not dragging feet on troop decision

Instead, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs explained, it was taking the Obama administration about as long to recalibrate its mission in Afghanistan as it took the George W. Bush administration to authorize its “surge” strategy in Iraq.

“When you say ‘drags on,’ I mean, as [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates said this weekend, it took three months in the previous White House to discuss a policy on a surge of troops in Iraq,” Gibbs said during Tuesday’s press briefing.

“[T]he president wants to get the policy right,” he added. “If the policy takes time to get right, then that’s what the president intends to do. I think he owes that to the men and women in uniform that are there. He owes that to the men and women in uniform that could go. And he owes that to each and every American.”

Congressional Republicans have ramped up their criticism of the White House’s approach to Afghanistan following the release of a report by mission commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal that predicted “failure” unless the United States deployed more troops to the war-torn state.

Although the Obama administration has since repeated that it would not make its decision until it overhauls its Afghanistan strategy, GOP lawmakers have accused the president of playing politics at a time when national security is at stake.

“The president isn’t going to make a political decision. The president’s going to make the decision that he feels is in the best interest of the United States’ national security,” Gibbs replied Tuesday.

“You know, the president is happy to hear the back-and-forth from both sides on this. But he’s going to take his time to decide what is right for the American people,” he added.

Obama will meet with McChrystal and a host of Pentagon and White House officials on Wednesday, the press secretary said.