Defense Secretary Robert Gates told McChrystal to request the number he thought he needed. White House staff signaled that the newly election president wanted to keep the levels down.
McChrystal describes how he presented his war goal to the White House as “defeat the Taliban” and “secure the population,” and was advised to lower his sights to “degrade” the Taliban.
Obama approved the addition of 30,000 troops, while simultaneously announcing a withdrawal date of 2014. McChrystal did not challenge those decisions, though he said he worried the timetable would embolden the Taliban.