Afghan decision crucial to Obama presidency: Pentagon chief

10:57, October 06, 2009      

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The decision that U.S. President Barack Obama will have to make on Afghanistan "will be among the most important of his presidency", U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday.

That, he said in a speech at the annual Association of the U.S. Army forum, makes it "important that we take the time to do all we can to get this right."

The Pentagon chief said that it is "imperative that all of us taking part in these deliberations, civilians and military alike, provide our best advice to the president, candidly and privately."

That was an apparent reference to the controversy over the public comments that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, top commander of U.S. force in Afghanistan, made supporting his request for additional troops.

Gates stressed that the U.S. military will fall in line with whatever Obama finally decides on the Afghan war.

The Pentagon chief said he remained neutral in the current debate on the Afghan war among U.S. military and political leadership.

On one hand, McChrystal, other top military leaders and opposition Republicans are pressing Obama to act quickly to increase the present 68,000-troop level by as many as 40,000.

Meanwhile, senior White House advisors are reportedly pushing back the request for sending large number of additional troops to Afghanistan, saying that the United States should instead focus on faster military training of Afghan forces, assassinations of al-Qaida leaders and support for the government of neighboring Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban.

Source: Xinhua
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