Obama Gives Order to Implement Afghanistan Decision

(CBS)
At an unannounced meeting with his war council yesterday, President Obama conveyed his decision on a new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and gave the order that the new strategy be implemented, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

"The commander in chief delivered the orders," Gibbs told reporters this morning, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

Among those present at the late afternoon meeting were Vice President Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs Vice Chair General James E. Cartwright, U.S. Central Command commander Army General David Petraeus., National Security Adviser General James Jones and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Following the meeting, Gibbs said, the president spoke via video conference in the Situation Room with General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, and Karl Eikenberry, ambassador to Afghanistan, to convey his decision to them.

Mr. Obama also spoke on the phone with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday and French President Nicolas Sarkozy today about the decision. He plans to contact British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later today, and was also expected to discuss the decision with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at their meeting this morning.

In addition, Gibbs said, the president plans to inform Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari of his decision later today or tomorrow.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Afghanistan

The president will announce his new strategy to the public in a primetime speech tomorrow night at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The president is expected to announce he is deploying between 30,000 and 35,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. He has been working on the speech with Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, according to Gibbs.

There are 68,000 U.S. troops in the country now, including the 21,000 already deployed by the president. McChrystal has sought an additional 40,000 troops.

Mr. Obama will meet with at least 31 key members of Congress, including leaders, committee chairs and ranking members, tomorrow at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time before heading to West Point.

In those meetings he will seek to drum up support for his new plan, particularly from Democrats skeptical about the cost of sending additional troops as well as the danger of getting further involved in the eight-year-old conflict.

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