U.S. President Barack Obama says he will decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan in a matter of weeks.
He is meeting again with his national security team today and next week to discuss possible changes in strategy. Obama spoke after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. He said America’s mission in Afghanistan has not changed. “I said it was important for us to reassess the situation on the ground, and that’s what we’re doing not just on the military side, but also on the civilian side,” the US President said. “Our principal goal remains to root out Al Qaida and its extremist allies that can launch attacks against the United States or its allies.” The president is considering various options. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has reportedly called for 40,000 more troops. Vice-President Joe Biden instead wants elite anti-terrorism units and air strikes to target al-Qaida. Loss of life in the war has been considerable. Close to 750 American soldiers have been killed. Nearly 19,000 Afghan soldiers and civilians have died. Earlier this year, Obama ordered 21,000 extra US troops in the country. Additional support personnel number 13,000. This brings the overall total of American soldiers in the country to 68,000, double the number when he took office.