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Gates To Give Obama Afghan Troop Plan Within Days

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will give President Barack Obama his formal recommendation on new U.S. troop deployments to Afghanistan within days, the Pentagon has said.

"I would think in the coming days the secretary hopes to be able to present the president with his recommendation," said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

He said Obama would also receive a recommendation from the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.

"How soon after that [the president] makes decisions that would lead to deployment orders, I can't tell you precisely," Morrell said at a news briefing.

The United States has 36,000 troops in Afghanistan and the Pentagon is considering plans to increase the force to possibly more than 60,000 troops over the next 12 to 18 months.

Morrell was speaking a day after Obama met for the first time with the heads of the U.S. armed forces to discuss a range of topics, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama emerged from the meeting to say the United States would soon face difficult decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan but gave no details.