President meets returning war dead

President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaDem senator: Trump thinks LGBT stands for 'Let’s Go Back in Time' Inauguration singer to Trump: Meet with me and my transgender sister NY attorney general: Transgender students to be protected despite withdrawal of Obama regulations MORE made a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base late Wednesday night as the bodies of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan arrived.

The president, who is still undecided on a strategy for the way forward in the region, left the White House by Marine One near midnight to meet the 18 bodies of soldiers and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents killed Monday.

The president is scheduled to meet Friday with members of his national security team as he continues to consider a strategy for the region.

The deaths of those Obama was meeting Wednesday night contributed to the deadliest month for Americans in Afghanistan since the war began eight years ago.

Republicans, including 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain made secret trip to Syria A guide to the committees: Senate Webb: The future of conservatism MORE (R-Ariz.), have intensely criticized Obama for not making his decision faster.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who joined the president on his trip, said this week that Obama is nearing the end of his decision-making process.

Reporters were not told of the president's trip until late Wednesday night.