Obama to debut Afghan troop strategy; says he intends 'to finish the job'

Obama to debut Afghan troop strategy; says he intends 'to finish the job'

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon Trump appointees stymie recommendations to boost minority voting: report Obama's first presidential memoir, 'A Promised Land,' set for November release MORE said Tuesday that he will announce his strategy for Afghanistan after Thanksgiving.

“My intention is to finish the job,” Obama said in comments from the White House.


This may be a hint that the president will send additional troops to a country where the U.S. has been embroiled in war for more than eight years. Obama also appeared to give a nod to weakening support for a  war that, according to polls, is no longer though winnable by a majority of the public.

“I think once the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, they will be supportive,” Obama said.

The president hinted that the U.S. had lost focus on the mission and not provided adequate strategy or resources to the region, a theme from his presidential campaign. He said it is in the strategic interest of the U.S. to target al-Qaeda and its allies to “dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately destroy their networks.”

Obama spoke from the East Room of the White House after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Obama is reportedly considering several options that involve different troops levels. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has reportedly requested that an additional 40,000 troops be sent, but Obama is choosing between options that range from 10,000 troops to 80,000 troops.

The U.S. has 68,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Obama did not confirm reports that he will address the nation next Tuesday, saying only he would make his announcement after Thanksgiving. Several news outlets reported Obama will address the nation in primetime on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The president spoke one day after a ninth meeting of his war council. Earlier on Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama received all the information he had asked for at that Monday night meeting.

Obama said he found the meetings to be “comprehensive and extremely useful,” adding that he heard from both military and civilian advisers.

Monday night’s meeting was the ninth that Obama has held with advisors on the policy going forward in Afghanistan. Those attending included Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response Biden tells CNN town hall that he has benefited from white privilege MORE, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and National Security Adviser Jim Jones.

Obama is scheduled to meet with Gates and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday afternoon.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag also attended the meeting in a possible reflection of worries about how an increase in troops could impact the nation’s budget. The deficit has become an increasing worry for the White House and Congress as lawmakers gear up for the 2010 elections.

The decision will be one of the most momentous of Obama’s first year in office. After arguing during the presidential campaign about the importance of winning the fight in Afghanistan, Obama has clearly been torn over whether to send more troops to that country.

Obama’s party is divided over whether more troops should be sent to Afghanistan. Congress would have to approve funds to pay for the additional troops, and several senior lawmakers have floated the idea of paying for the war with a tax on the wealthy.

Republicans are urging Obama to back McChrystal’s request and have accused the president of dithering in his decision. Obama may depend on GOP lawmakers to support funding for the war if he loses liberals in his party.

After the eighth meeting of his war council, the president was said to be unhappy with the strategies laid out before him, and he emphasized in comments to the press that he needed to be convinced that there is a way to hand over control of Afghanistan's security to that country’s government.

Obama also met with Clinton Monday afternoon. She recently returned from an unscheduled trip to Afghanistan, where she met with President Hamid Karzai and attended his second inauguration.

The administration has worried over whether Karzai’s government, which has been accused of corruption, would make it difficult for any military action in Afghanistan to succeed.

This story was initially posted at 7:26 a.m. and updated at 12:43 p.m.