WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is determined to have his strategy firmed up first before committing to troop levels in Afghanistan, his aides said.
With the Afghan war entering its ninth year, and faced with rising U.S. and coalition casualties amid escalating Taliban violence, the president has been closely reviewing the situation to decide on the future course.
"Until the president's review of this early in the administration, there hadn't been a strategy, a coordinated strategy to deal with both Afghanistan and this very dangerous region of the world for many, many years. And that's what the president's intent on getting right," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, reportedly has asked for up to 40,000 more troops.
"The president is very content not to do this backwards," Gibbs said. "Not to pick a number of troops and devise a strategy, but to go through this in a rigorous way."
The president already has decided against pulling out of Afghanistan. Other published reports have indicated Obama's strategy may focus more on al-Qaida in Pakistan and less on the Taliban in Afghanistan, in the belief that while al-Qaida is a threat not only to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad, the Taliban pose no direct threat.
Such a plan is believed to be supported by Vice President Joe Biden but CNN, quoting sources, said other advisers have since said in the meetings that approach is problematic.