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Obama: US faces tough choices on Iraq, Afghanistan
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The United States faces some "difficult decisions" on Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

"We're going to have some difficult decisions that we' re going to have to make, surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan most immediately," Obama said after meeting with the members of Joint Chiefs of Staff during his first visit to the Pentagon as president.

However, he did not elaborate on what these decisions might be.

"Going after extremists" who would harm the United States also is "uppermost in our minds," Obama said, who is accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden.

The president said he and U.S. military leaders talked about a range of issues facing the military as well as "threats that face this nation."

Military personnel also need resources and support "to keep our nation safe each and very day," Obama said.

"I have the utmost confidence the military will do its job," the president said.

He pledged the "civilian side of the ledger" would do its job to support them.

The armed forces have been asked to carry out a "whole set of missions, sometimes without the strategic support" needed, Obama said.

One of his goals, he stressed, is to ensure military personnel "were not carrying the full load."

The country was grateful for service members' service and sacrifices "responsible for our freedoms," Obama said.

The visit to Pentagon comes as military planners are looking to draw down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq while sending more troops to Afghanistan.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and a Marine Air Ground Task Force have already been diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan.

More troops are expected to be in place by summer, including an undetermined number of Marines.

Meanwhile, analysts said upcoming provincial elections in Iraq will indicate how quickly the U.S. can withdraw troops.

(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2009)

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