WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering sending large numbers of additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan next year but fewer than his war commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, prefers, U.S. officials said.
A narrowed military mission would escalate American forces to accomplish the commander's broadest goals, protecting Afghan cities and key infrastructure. But the option's scaled-down troop numbers likely would cut back on McChrystal's ambitious objectives, amounting to what one official described as "McChrystal Light."
Under the pared-down option, McChrystal would be given fewer forces than the 40,000 additional troops he has asked for atop the current U.S. force of 68,000, officials told the Associated Press.
Senior White House officials stressed, however, that the president has not settled on any new troop numbers and continues to debate other strategic approaches to the 8-year-old Afghanistan war. The officials say Obama has not yet firmly settled on the narrowed option or any other as his final choice for how to overhaul the war effort.
Two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Obama has not announced his decision, said the troop numbers under the narrowed scenario probably would be lower than McChrystal's preference, at least at the outset.
October has been the worst month for U.S. fatalities since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan began in 2001.