Image: David Petraeus
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, center, current Commander of International Security Assistance Force, and Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan leaves a meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 15.
updated 6/16/2011 4:34:50 PM ET 2011-06-16T20:34:50

President Barack Obama's top general in Afghanistan has given him a range of options for withdrawing American forces as a July deadline for starting the drawdown approaches.

Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Gen. David Petraeus, along with other members of the national security team, met with the president at the White House Wednesday. Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has long been expected to give Obama multiple options for how to begin bringing U.S. forces home and at what pace.

White House officials wouldn't say what options Obama is considering, though they did say he will inform the public of his decision soon. Carney said Thursday that Obama will consult further with his national security team, including Petraeus, in the coming days.

The war is now in its 10th year. The U.S. has roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, three times as many as when Obama took office. When the president sent an additional 30,000 U.S. forces to Afghanistan at the end of 2009, he did so with the caveat that some of those troops would start coming home in July 2011.

Video: Which politician will stand up to Gen. Petraeus? (on this page)

Obama has said the initial withdrawal will be "significant," but others in the administration, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have called for a more modest drawdown.

Administration officials say they are focused not only on how many troops will leave Afghanistan next month, but how the U.S. will meet its goal of giving Afghans control of their own security by the end of 2014. To that extent, Obama's decision may clarify the broader path to ending the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan.

As the president deliberates, he faces increasing calls for a substantial drawdown from lawmakers in Congress.

A bipartisan group of more than two dozen senators sent Obama a letter Wednesday saying it makes no sense to maintain a significant number of troops in Afghanistan. They cited the recent death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and CIA Director Leon Panetta's assessment that less than 100 al-Qaida members remain in Afghanistan.

"Given our successes, it is the right moment to initiate a sizable and sustained reduction in forces, with the goal of steadily redeploying all regular combat troops," the senators wrote. "The costs of prolonging the war far outweigh the benefits. It is time for the United States to shift course in Afghanistan."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Gates: U.S. will 'keep after' al-Qaida

  1. Closed captioning of: Gates: U.S. will 'keep after' al-Qaida

    >>> to another story in the news this morning, today's announcement read like a press release from a fortune 500 firm announcing a change from the top to the number two guy. in this case it was al qaeda . the top job was vacated of course when bin laden was killed. jim miklaszewski has more on the new man in charge and new signs of the tattered relationship these days between the u.s. and pakistan .

    >> reporter: nearly seven weeks after osama bin laden was killed by u.s. commandos, the new leader was picked. outgoing defense secretary robert gates says zawahri is no bin laden .

    >> i think it's a reminder that they are still out there and we still need to keep after it.

    >> reporter: as bin laden 's deputy, zawahri was the brains behind the terrorist bombings of two u.s. embassies in africa, the attack on the u.s. cole and the attack on the world trade center and the pentagon. in a video released last week, zawahri called for revenge for the killing of bin laden . the most immediate challenge however, mending relations with pakistan , seriously embarrassed by the secret raid that killed bin laden . in retaliation, the pakistan shut down three -- the centers provided critical intelligence by the movement of taliban fighter who is crossed into afghanistan to attack american forces . gate s argued, that's -- the military cannot afford to lose.

    >> the lines of communication are critical for our operations in afghanistan .

    >> and the white house announced today, that general david petraeus , the top u.s. command never afghanistan has provided obama with several options for these u.s. troops withdrawals set to begin next month and the president could announce his decision as soon as next week.


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