Obama, congressional leaders to meet on Afghan war


The meeting on the war comes as the Obama administration conducts a review of its Afghan strategy.
President Obama will meet with top congressional leaders from both parties Tuesday to discuss the war in Afghanistan, according to two Democratic officials.

Obama will be joined by, among others, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the heads of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees in the House and Senate, the officials said. The meeting comes in the midst of the Obama administration’s comprehensive review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Several 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. In March, Obama announced a plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to the country to provide security for a national election. That move followed what Obama and others called years of inadequate resources in Afghanistan due to the Bush administration’s focus on Iraq. The Obama strategy was based on a counterinsurgency mission intended to defeat terrorists based in Afghanistan while winning local support and helping with development. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took over four months ago as the top U.S. commander in the country, has submitted an assessment in which, sources have told CNN, he says he needs additional forces to carry out the counterinsurgency strategy successfully. Otherwise, McChrystal reportedly warns, the mission could fail, bringing a return of power to the Taliban. Obama has yet to respond to McChrystal’s report, prompting opponents to accuse him of indecisiveness and playing politics that puts U.S. soldiers on the ground at risk. Watch more on the debate over the best way forward

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National security adviser James Jones Jr. on Sunday cited three developments since March that have led the White House to reconsider its overall Afghanistan strategy: questions about the legitimacy of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s election victory, McChrystal’s conclusion that the Taliban is stronger than previously thought and neighboring Pakistan’s improved efforts to change the overall dynamic of the border region. “The key in Afghanistan is to have a triad of things happen simultaneously,” Jones said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” listing improved security, economic development and “good governance and the rule of law.” Jones said Karzai’s government “is going to have to pitch in and do much better” than it has to improve the governance situation after the elections, widely considered as tainted by vote fraud in some areas. Some in Obama’s inner circle, including Vice President Joe Biden, are advocating a counterterrorism approach that focuses on combating al Qaeda through the use of unmanned drones and special forces without involving additional troops. Others, especially McChrystal, are strongly advocating the broader counterinsurgency approach, which requires a much larger U.S. military footprint in the country. See who has Obama’s ear on Afghanistan

Eight American troops and two Afghan security force members were killed Saturday when militants opened fire on an outpost with rockets, mortars and heavy-caliber machine guns, according to an initial U.S. military report on the battle. It was the largest number of Americans killed by hostile action in a single day in Afghanistan since July 2008, according to CNN records.

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