U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hinted Thursday that it's still possible for Washington to send additional troops to Afghanistan beyond what President Barack Obama has promised.
However, there'll be no formal request for additional troops from a review compiled by Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, which is due to come out in the coming weeks, Gates told a Pentagon briefing.
Gates said U.S. military leaders in Washington want McChrystal "to ask for what he thinks he needs."
But he also made it clear that the McChrystal report will not contain any specific recommendations for increases in troops.
The Obama administration expects the report to be completed between Afghanistan's Aug. 20 presidential election and a NATO meeting in September.
The Obama administration is in the process of an Afghan buildup that will push U.S. troop levels there to a record 68,000 by year end, but it is still undecided on whether to send additional troops beyond that.
There are reports that McChrystal and other U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are inclined to ask for more troops due to the escalated war.
The U.S. war effort in Afghanistan is costing about 4 billion U. S. dollars a month.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2009)