WASHINGTON — President Barack 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.
Such 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 most 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, two officials speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press.
Senior White House officials stressed 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.
Obama is likely to hold off on making a decision until after Afghanistan's presidential runoff election on Nov. 7, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday in Pakistan.
"I would imagine that he will be coming to a decision sometime after the Afghan election is finally resolved," Clinton told a group of Pakistani journalists during an interview in Lahore.