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Video: Obama days away from troop decision

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    >>> news" begins now.

    >>> good evening. i'm lester holt . brian williams is back tomorrow. president obama says next week he will announce a strategy to, in his worz, finish the job in afghanistan . what began eight years ago as a conventional were to deny al qaeda sanctuary in afghanistan has devolved into a bloody hit and run guerrilla conflict, without a well-defined end game and a growing cost of american lives. the president is expected to lay out his new goals for the war in his new speech next tuesday and it is widely believed he will commit thousands of additional troops to the fight as part of a broad plan to defeat the insurgency. we have the story recovered with reports from washington to kabul. we begin with nbc's savannah guthrie at the white house . savannah?

    >> reporter: good evening, lester. this is the most important national security decision the president will make, one i.d.s know could be the lasting decision of this president's legacy. on the day the president welcomed india's prime minister for the first state visit at the white house , it was afghanistan that dominated, close to a decision on strategy, the president set high expectations.

    >> after eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, i think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job.

    >> reporter: huddling late last night, a final time with his war council , sources say the president gathered views but did not reveal his own. officials say the president is not expected to give afghanistan 's commanding general stanley mccrystal the full 40,000 troops he requested, but he may come close. some military officials expect a range near 30,000 pt troops focused on protecting population centers and building up afghan security forces . but beyond the military battle in afghanistan , a political one at home.

    >> i don't think there's a great deal of support for sending more troops.

    >> reporter: prominent members of the president's own party have made no secret of grave concerns, driving home the message this democrat proposed a war tax to cover the tens of billions of troop surge would cost.

    >> it seems to me if the society wants to fight this war, than it ought to pay for it so we don't destroy our ability to reform our own economy.

    >> reporter: republicans say give the generals what they want. former vice president dick cheney yesterday once again accusing the president of dithering.

    >> it's not one of these deals when you request just sit there and delay and delay and think you're going to make a better decision.

    >> reporter: polls show the public deeply split, too, a divide he knows he must bridge.

    >> i feel very confident that when the american people hear a clear rational for what we're doing there, that they will be s supportive 346 well, congress is expected to hold hearings after the president amounnounces his decision with testimony from the top dpishls, including the commanding general in afghanistan , lester.

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