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White House Reviewing Afghan Strategy

U.S.President Barack Obama
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants to wait to determine the proper strategy for U.S. forces in Afghanistan before considering whether more troops should be sent there.

Obama made his comments in interviews aired on multiple U.S. television networks on September 20.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General Stanley McChrystal is expected to ask for a troop increase in the coming weeks to stem gains by a resurgent Taliban.

McChrystal has finished preparing his request, which some officials expected would include roughly 30,000 new combat troops and trainers, but he has yet to submit it to Washington for consideration.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the Pentagon was working with McChrystal on how that request should be made.

Obama, in interviews taped on September 18 with ABC's "This Week," CBS' "Face the Nation" and CNN's "State of the Union," was asked when he would decide whether or not to send more troops.

He said he had not received a request for more troops and that he was still working on the appropriate strategy to ensure al Qaeda is not in a position to attack the United States.

"I just want to make sure that everybody understands that you don't make decisions about resources before you have the strategy ready," he told ABC's "This Week."

He told NBC's "Meet the Press" that it was important for him to exercise skepticism anytime he sent an American in uniform into harm's way.

"Because I'm the one who's answerable to their parents if they don't come home. So I have to ask some very hard questions anytime I send our troops in," he said.

He said that while he did not have a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, "I'm certainly not somebody who believes in indefinite occupations of other countries."

Congressional critics, including Republican Senator John McCain, have urged the administration to approve the deployment of more troops immediately, saying any delay puts the lives of troops already in Afghanistan at greater risk.

"If he has a recommendation to reverse what's happening in Afghanistan, when young Americans are dying every day, why shouldn't we get that recommendation to the president and implement it or not implement it as soon as possible?" McCain, the most senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters last week.