President meets returning war dead

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump denies clemency to 180 people Mellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… When George W. Bush stood with Hillary Clinton 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 Sidney McCainGOP moves to cut debate time for Trump nominees GOP advances proposal to change Senate rules Julian Castro predicts Arizona will 'go blue' for Senate, presidential election 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.