Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he's talked to President Obama only once since taking command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan over the summer, a revelation that drew swift criticism from some who are concerned that the president is putting off McChrystal's request for more troops.
"It's startling," Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., told FOX News.
McChrystal talked about his interaction with the president in an interview with CBS News.
"I've talked to the president since I've been here once on a (video teleconference)," he said.
"You talked to him once in 70 days?" CBS' David Martin asked.
"That's correct," McChrystal said.
McChrystal, who warned in a recent assessment of the war in Afghanistan that the United States risks failure without more troops, submitted a request for more resources on Friday.
But the White House says it will review the overall strategy in Afghanistan before addressing troop levels.
The disclosure that the president and his top Afghanistan commander have spoken just once added to concerns that the administration is waiting too long to deal with the troop level issue.
Gregg said that former President George W. Bush spoke with his then-top Iraq commander, Gen. David Petraeus, on a regular basis. He said that while Obama may be speaking regularly with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Petraeus, who is now head of Central Command, the president should still keep in regular contact with McChrystal.
"I would think you'd want to hear one-on-one from your field commander more than once in six months," he said.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, said he found it "extraordinarily surprising" that McChrystal, once in regular contact with former Vice President Dick Cheney, has talked to Obama only once since taking command.
"It's not really a good sign," he said.
But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama is trying to be very deliberative in assessing the strategy going forward in Afghanistan, and he urged patience.
"I assume that any decision is a number of weeks away," Gibbs said. He said it can be detrimental to put resource decisions ahead of strategy decisions.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, said McChrystal's assessment needs to be seen as part of a broader strategy.
"It doesn't stand alone. It is part of a process," she said. "There's other input that's coming throughout the government that the president will take on board. But I think we ought to look at it in context."