Image: President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Gerald Herbert  /  AP
President Barack Obama, who met with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday, said there would be "a much more comprehensive strategy" for Afghanistan over the next several years.
updated 3/24/2009 2:36:20 PM ET 2009-03-24T18:36:20

Nearing completion of a revamped strategy in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the United States will "stay on the offensive" to dismantle terrorist operations in the country even as it rethinks its goals in trying to end the seven-year-old war.

The president did not divulge details of his administration's war review, which he said is not yet complete. It is expected to be unveiled as soon as this week.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said the threat of al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates has not gone away. As a consequence, he said, "it's important for us to stay on the offensive." Yet he emphasized that the U.S, working with its coalition partners, cannot simply win the war militarily.

"My expectations would be that over the next several years, you are going to see a much more comprehensive strategy, a more focused strategy, and a more disciplined strategy to achieve our common goals," Obama said after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Rudd, whose country has roughly 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, sounded a similar theme. He said the mission remains to eliminate havens for terrorists.

Approved additional troops
Obama has approved an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to go to Afghanistan this year, bolstering 33,000 already there, to counter the Taliban's growing resurgence in recent years in the volatile southern part of the country. He has described that as the most difficult decision of his young presidency.

Video: Planning an Afghan exit strategy In the coming days, he is expected to announce his broader rethinking of U.S. strategy and goals in the war, including changed tactics and lowered expectations for the difficult conflict. Top aides to Obama are recommending that the United States combine a boost in military deployments with a steep increase in civilian experts to combat a growing insurgency in Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials say.

Obama's top military advisers say the U.S. is not winning the fight in Afghanistan. The war began in direct response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Obama said he is aware that the war and its deep sacrifice weigh on the minds of the American public.

"But I think the American people also recognize that in order for us to keep our homeland safe, and in order to maintain our way of life and ensure order in the international scene, we can't allow vicious killers to have their way," he said. We're going to do what's required to make sure that does not happen."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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