Q Hi, everyone. Thanks for doing the call. I’ve got a couple, but I’ll be quick. Did General Petraeus specifically endorse this plan, or was it one of the options that General Petraeus gave to the president? And as a follow-up, did Gates, Panetta and Clinton all endorse it? Finally, will the president say about how many troops will remain past 2014? And of the 33,000 coming home by next summer, how many are coming home and how many are going to be reassigned somewhere else?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, I’ll take part of that. In terms of General Petraeus, I think that, consistent with our approach to this, General Petraeus presented the president with a range of options for pursuing this drawdown. There were certainly options that went beyond what the President settled on in terms of the length of time that it would take to recover the surge and the pace that troops would come out — so there were options that would have kept troops in Afghanistan longer at a higher number.
That said, the president’s decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him and has the full support of his national security team. I think there’s a broad understanding among the national security team that there’s an imperative to both consolidate the gains that have been made and continue our efforts to train Afghan security forces and partner with them in going after the Taliban, while also being very serious about the process of transition and the drawdown of our forces.
So, to your first question, I would certainly — I would characterize it that way. There were a range. Some of those options would not have removed troops as fast as the President chose to do, but the president’s decision was fully in the range of options the president considered.
Just for a process point, over the course of last week the president had three meetings with his national security team to include Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, Director Panetta, Director Clapper, but also General Petraeus was in all of those discussions as well — and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, of course, Admiral Mullen.
In terms of the troops, I couldn’t be specific about that. They’re obviously coming out of Afghanistan.