President Obama was expected to “formally approve additional deployments” to Afghanistan last week. But on Friday, ABC News reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates was deferring a decision on whether to send more more troops “until President Obama decides what force levels he wants.” The Pentagon has presented a proposal to send three additional brigades — 17,000 troops. The U.K. Sunday Times reports:
The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.
The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.
Larry Korb, a defence expert at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, said: “Obama is exactly right. Before he agrees to send 30,000 troops, he wants to know what the mission and the endgame is.”
Obama and Gates seem to be leaning towards a “more modest approach, defining the mission as limited solely to stabilizing Afghanistan.”