Obama to get Afghan report on vacation

September 1, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Sept 1 – President Barack Obama will likely take a key US report on Afghan policy on vacation to Camp David on Wednesday, the White House said, hitting back at claims it was moving too slowly to revamp war strategy.

The classified report by General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, is a long-awaited assessment of the war, which Obama has declared the most vital front in the US struggle against terrorism.

"I anticipate that the president will take some form of the McChrystal report with him to Camp David," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, referring to the presidential retreat in Maryland where Obama will resume his vacation.

McChrystal has already sent his strategic assessment to the head of US Central Command General, General David Petraeus, for comment en route to the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the US military said.

Gibbs said he had not read the report and added its contents were classified, but on Monday, McChrystal said the "situation in Afghanistan is serious but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve."

In a statement, he said his assessment seeks to implement Obama’s strategy "to reduce the capability and will of the insurgents, Al-Qaeda and transnational extremists" as well as develop Afghan forces and improve governance and development.

Gibbs also stressed Tuesday that the McChrystal report would not contain a request for more military or aid resources, adding that any such request would come separately in a matter of weeks.

The spokesman also told reporters he wanted to give everyone the "correct impression" of how much time the Afghan war takes up on Obama’s calendar.

He mentioned, for instance, a specific meeting in the secure White House Situation Room several weeks ago, which included a link-up to McChrystal and US ambassador Karl Eikenberry in Kabul.

"This notion somehow that there is no urgency in our dealing with Afghanistan, I don’t think could be further from the truth," he said.

"This is something that has been ongoing, quite frankly it started in the transition. The president has been dealing with the issue virtually every day."

On Monday, Gibbs warned that Obama’s new Afghan strategy will take time to show results, accusing the former Bush administration of neglecting the Afghan war.

The Pentagon dismissed McChrystal’s predecessor last May, calling for new thinking in Afghanistan to counter record numbers of attacks since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime.

Obama is due to head up to the Camp David retreat in Maryland on Wednesday. He will be resuming a vacation which started on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard last week but was repeatedly interrupted by political developments, and the death of his political mentor Senator Edward Kennedy.


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