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McChrystal tells lawmakers Obama engaged in "thoughtful process" on request for more troops

By Paul Kane
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told a group of key congressmen Thursday that President Obama was engaged in a "thoughtful process" of deciding on his request for additional troops in the region.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), in a telephone interview from Afghanistan, said that McChrystal declined to criticize Obama's nearly three month review of the general's request to send up to 40,000 more troops into the war-torn nation. Instead, McChrystal - whose opinion has been treated as sacrosanct by many Republicans - told the group that the U.S. forces could still achieve the mission of routing the Taliban.

"He believed that the mission was accomplishable," Price said after meeting the general and other top U.S. officials Thursday in Kabul. Some of the lawmakers pressed McChrystal on Obama's lengthy process, but the general described it as a "thoughtful process and wouldn't go any further," Price said. "I was a little surprised he didn't voice frustration with the delay."

Price is with a congressional delegation of Georgians, including Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) and Reps. John Barrow (D) and Lynn Westmoreland (R). The lawmakers also visited U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry.

The visit could serve as an early bellwether of how much support Obama can hope to receive from congressional Republicans when he makes his announcement about the next phase of the war in Afghanistan Tuesday night at West Point.

During the eight years of the Bush administration, GOP support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was nearly universal. Despite their decided minority status in the House and Senate, Republicans could be key to Obama's effort to send what could be an additional 30,000 to 35,000 more U.S. soldiers into the battlefield because of waning support among Democrats.

Price is the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 100 conservatives. No ally of the White House on any key issue so far this year, Price's support of the new effort in Afghanistan would signal that a large number of Republicans would back Obama, but the lawmaker remains undecided until he hears the specifics of the president's plan next week.

Price said he wants the president to voice full-throated support for the effort to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. "Then he'll have the full backing and support of the Republican conference," Price said.

He said it would be a "disaster" if, in sending more troops there, Obama also sent a signal that they would be coming home shortly if the mission is not successful immediately, because that would let the Taliban think they could wait out Obama and then take up the battle once the U.S. and NATO forces leave.

Price's biggest complaint has been the amount of time that Obama has taken in reaching a decision, beginning when McChrystal submitted his report on Aug. 30. He thinks that the time it has taken to reach the decision has been time that troops could be on the ground already in battle. "The president has taken more time than is necessary. Maybe that will be time well spent," Price said.

By Mike Shepard  |  November 26, 2009; 2:18 PM ET
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What exactly was this lengthy "process"? Talking to biden?

seems the delay will end up putting troops into afganistan in the middle of winter... duh, oops.

Obama should think about military decisions about as much as I should mull over place settings for my friends wedding. That's like a lawyer thinking about health care decisions... doesn't matter unless you understand the subject matter.

Posted by: docwhocuts | November 26, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"He believed the mission was accomplishable." We can put this quote on thousands of American tombstones from coast to coast.

We can now understand why the first lady made those visits to the VA. Looks like they will need to increase services and funding for the maimed vets returning from theater.

This war is unwinnable regardless of gung-ho Special Forces Commanders and their can-do spirit. This was the same attitude of the Japanese before they bombed Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: alance | November 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

" This war is unwinnable regardless of gung-ho Special Forces Commanders and their can-do spirit. "

That's what everyone said about the surge in Iraq.

Posted by: princeps2 | November 26, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I supported the surge in Iraq because it was accomplishable and would facilitate our exit.

There is an illusion that what you can do in one country can be replicated in another. The Iraqi mentality is far different from the Afghani - it is comparing apples to oranges. Almost everything is different, except the use of IEDs to blow up Americans.

Instead of occupying this useless pile of rocks we need to fine tune our hit-and-run tactics as needed.

Posted by: alance | November 26, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

When will reason prevail?

Germany's military engagement in Afghanistan in support of NATO has never been popular by the German people. The German government has tried in vein to explain the objectives of the troop presence to an increasingly skeptical public. Their politicians have consistently failed to convince most Germans that there is a clear and sound strategy in place for the NATO mission.
The same situation exists in our country. Most Americans feel, as the Germans do, that there is no clear cut and defined objective for the war.
Isn't about time that our government and NATO recognized the reality of the situation and the futility of proceeding with a war that is unwinnable? We have already spent eight years in Afghanistan and are we are no farther along then we were at inception. The war in Afghanistan is not winnable because of the very nature of the environment that we are in. There is corruption among all levels of government. The country is structured around tribal and ethnic leadership and has a significant illegal drug growing (heroin) problem. These conditions coupled with the Taliban's aggression preclude success. In fact, our aggression throughout the middle east may have only served to exacerbate the situation because most of the Arab countries do not want us to occupy Arab land.
Is it not time that reason prevailed?

Posted by: wfmurray | November 26, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Regarding the comment about Iraq. Those who believe we won in Iraq are delusional. The only thing accomplished there was the death of Saddam.The war continues among the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions. Elections have been postponed and conflict will continue.

Posted by: wfmurray | November 26, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Docwhocuts---Why in the world is putting troops in during the winter a BAD idea? In the past, that has been when the enemy has slowed the OPTEMPO down. I'd rather see reinforcements go in when the enemy does not have the initiative. So enjoy your friends wedding and butt out of military strategy.

And by the way, it took Bush twice this long to surge troops to Iraq--the other failed war he dropped in Obama's lap.

Posted by: payoung1 | November 26, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

And by the way, the "surge" of American forces in Iraq has not brought "victory." What a crock.

Posted by: payoung1 | November 26, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Stupid beltway general can't tell his @ss from a hole in the ground but he will compliment his fellow war incompetent with words of "thoughtful process."

Yep, them think-tank ko0ks are the best...

We're laughing at you.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | November 26, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

thegreatpotatospamof2003 wrote, "Stupid beltway general can't tell his @ss from a hole in the ground but he will compliment his fellow war incompetent with words of "thoughtful process." Yep, them think-tank ko0ks are the best...We're laughing at you."

I'm not sure what insight I'm supposed to take with me after reading that comment. Perhaps that the commenter is opinionated, arrogant and vulgar.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | November 26, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

For docwhocuts:

Obama happens to be the Commander In Chief of our military forces. That is why he, as president, is involved in the decision making process. In this country the military does not make the final decision (fortunately).

Posted by: wfmurray | November 26, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Price must be kind of a dense fellow. The military, top down, has stated all along that any fresh troops would not be deployed until next year. He apparently doesn't get it. That means, there are and were no plans to rush them in to battle. Moreover, Obama is trying to salvage what the previous administration botched so badly. Rushing into a Cheney' style decision would only make a bad situation worse. The president has full support of JCS and DoD. Price and the other critics looking for panicked rush to disaster need to remember they could have avoided this altogether. By sticking with the important objective, Afghanistan, in 2002 and 2003, they could have won the thing and it would have been over with. Price and his buddies need to read On Point II, the Army's assessment of how the civilian and military leadership made a mess of everything 2002-2005 which essentially created a perpetual mess in the ME.

Posted by: Letsgetapizza | November 26, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

The president has full support of JCS and DoD.


Nice press spin, but still, BS.


I look at Stan, and a guy like Brennan, and I see a pattern, a continuity of bad decisions which have led this country to compromise its security. I see D0D kooks wholly unable to understand the war they are facing and what's more, wholly unable to understand how the various geopolitical actions around the world affect the US and its ability to defend itself.

Asymmetrical warfare aims to kill the country from within. Terrorism is not a war of violence necessarily but one of psychology. And given a ko0k like Brennan and his antiAmerican actions (same with Stan) I swear they must have a commie-Russian hand up their @Sses, puppeting both. Our economy is bleeding due to not only these wars, but the compromised MESS DC has become with all the mediocre talent and corruption. And the best solution the idiots can come up with, past all the specious emotionalism ("but emotionalism makes me feel GOOD!" ie, "Give the general those men -- My God you must do right!" Oh, brother, d0od, find a new writer or a new mind) is a Viet Nam 2.

And rather than listen to Eikenberry, we're going to get another snooze fest of same old same old from the Dems as the do the usual press/Congressional hearing shuffle (bad guy, good, guy, look at my left hand not my right, the usual "We will not fund the war" when the goal all along is to fund the war -- we get it, really, we do) trying to confuse the public while not noticing they're, um, losing control, and when all is said and done, our position, as a nation, or theirs, really, as kooks, will be weaker.

The best I hope to see come from this?

That ko0k pEntagon weakened, and the greater military intellects again in charge of this nation.

And I would say this again will follow a Pentagon administrative Viet Nam trajectory, but you know, I don't think you'd get it if the best you can do is appeal to specious emotionalism. Or maybe you really DO think that way...

Mcnamara was a ko0k, and so were his models. This group is even DUMBER.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | November 26, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

"The president has taken more time than is necessary. Maybe that will be time well spent," Price said.
Sounds like Mr. Price is becoming "thoughtful". What a concept!

Posted by: stosp | November 27, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

we could get out of these two costly
wars, and spend that money on
state dinners and celebrations!

If you elect me!@!???

the troops will be on thier way
home jan. 22nd!!!!

cheers! cheers! cheer!

Posted by: simonsays1 | November 27, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank. " - Barack Obama Campaign Promise - October 27, 2007


Posted by: simonsays1 | November 27, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

US General Stanley McCrystal will be forever known as the “Man who lost the War in Afghanistan”. His failure to articulate the immediate importance of personnel to the Commander-In-Chief, his failure to manage his NATO Forces, his failure to prioritize the targets in Afghanistan and defeat Al-Qaeda/Taliban will be his life long hallmark. GEN McCrystal should be retired before he must walk the rest of his life in shame as a “FAILURE”.

His tombstone will read, “GEN McCrystal, US Army, LOSER!”

Posted by: ACE11 | November 27, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: simonsays1
we could get out of these two costly
wars, and spend that money on
state dinners and celebrations!


If you are referring to Obama's first and only state dinner so far let me remind you that Bush had three of them by this time in his miserable tenure as President. The man had so many parties and vacations you have to wonder if he was a President or a or an every day party hound. Seems his past came back to live with him again. Pretzels and Beer anyone?

Posted by: billr40229 | November 30, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

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