From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
In today's Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated he's prepared to drop his reluctance for a big U.S. military "footprint" in Afghanistan and may be willing to sign onto a large increase in U.S. troops.
Gates indicated that Gen. McChrystal's new strategy which puts a larger emphasis on "protecting the Afghan people" may be a game changer.
"It's not the size of the footprint, but the nature of the footprint" that matters, Gates said, indicating again he's willing to support a request for a sizable increase in the number of U.S. forces on the ground.
Gates also said after eight years of war (in Iraq and Afghanistan), he understands why public support for the war in Afghanistan is slipping -- but tried to remind the American people that ultimately the war in Afghaistan is about the 9/11 attack on the United States, and preventing Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.