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On Veterans Day, Obama Faces Afghan Decision

BY Online DA  November 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington, Va./ Getty Images

The Obamas hosted a Veterans Day breakfast in the East Room of the White House before traveling to Arlington National Cemetery. At Arlington, the president helped with the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He will then deliver remarks at the cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater.

In the afternoon, President Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan. All the major players are expected to be there, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press reports that Mr. Obama is considering four options regarding the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to offer details about the scenarios, but indicated that no decision has been made regarding troop deployment. The AP also obtained a copy of a letter sent to the president by Republican senators reminding him that he’s received ample support from the GOP to date, but stressing that U.S. troops in Afghanistan face a great deal of stress and badly require reinforcement.

CNN has reported greater details about the four options President Obama is considering. A senior official confirmed that one scenario would involve sending 34,000 troops to Afghanistan, 6,000 shy of McChrystal’s request. These troops would be split into three brigades spread throughout the country, mainly focusing in the south and southeast where the majority of the fighting is taking place. The official said that this is the Pentagon’s favorite option and one that the military will be pushing.

According to the New York Times, this option is favored by top White House officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As the president weighs sending more troops to Afghanistan, his British counterpart, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is facing opposition at home for U.K. involvement in the war. NPR has a story about a small town that regularly gathers to greet the coffins of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Brown told parliament he expected President Obama to announce a decision “in a few days” on troop numbers for Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

NATO’s Afghan mission currently involves 65,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 from allied nations, including 9,000 from Britain.