While President Obama continues to mull over his options for adding more U.S. troops to the mission in Afghanistan, he is also pressing for an increased strategic focus on "off-ramps" out of Afghanistan, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos is reporting Wednesday. As one Obama aide put it to Stephanopoulos, the president is still waiting to receive a more definitive vision of what will be the "American Bridge" out of the country, and considers what he's heard so far to be unsatisfying.
As reported Tuesday, Obama is said to be considering four options for reorienting the U.S.'s strategy in Afghanistan, and is scheduled to meet with his national security team Wednesday to discuss them before heading off to Asia for a week. White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to give details on the four options Tuesday. Obama is still said to be weeks away from making his decision.
Among the plans under consideration are one sending 40,000 troops, which was initial recommendation of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. According to the LA Times, another option on the table involves sending 34,000 additional troops; a third option under discussion, which McChrystal has labeled high-risk, would be to send fewer than 20,000 troops while continuing to focus on counterinsurgency -- however the New York Times puts the troop figure for the low-end option slightly higher, at between 20,000 to 25,000. The troop level for the fourth option, which the New York Times reports was only added recently, is unknown.
The 30,000-plus troop option is said to have the backing of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Times reports.