— From NBC's Chuck Todd and Jim Miklaszewski
Pres. Obama met today with the Joint Chiefs of Staff for just the second time since taking office. The president grilled the commanders on strategy and troop requests for Afghanistan during the nearly three hour meeting, but no final decision were made, according to both senior White House and Pentagon officials
In fact, the president has asked the Joint Chiefs to come back to the White House possibly as early as next week to present him with more options. The president is not happy with the choices that he has in front of him, which include Gen. Stanley McCrystal's request for approximately 40,000 more troops. So in the last few weeks, the White House asked the Pentagon to draw up more plans and when ready have the Joint Chiefs present the options formally to the president at the next meeting.
While nothing has been ruled out, the fact the president is asking for more options than what was already on the table, including the 40,000 troop request, is a strong sign that whatever number the president approves, it will likely be less than than 40,000 number. In fact, sources tell NBC News that at least one commander in the meeting today told the president there was a concern that the military was a bit stretched, something that may have had a big impact on the Commander in Chief.
As for timing, it's ALSO looking less likely the president will make a decision (let alone ANNOUNCE a decision) before he leaves for Asia on Nov. 11, a self-imposed soft deadline the White House had hoped to meet.