President Obama said Thursday among the factors weighing on his mind while he formulates a decision on US troop levels in Afghanistan will be the effect on the lives of those who would be impacted most directly; the uniformed troops who would be sent to fight and their families.
"Obviously, the burden that both our troops and [their] families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts, and it is something that I think about each and every day," the President told reporters in the Oval Office.
Mr. Obama expressed that visually when he made an overnight visit to Dover Air Force Base Wednesday to attend the dignified transfer of 15 fallen soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Agency agents; an image not seen in many years.
But his Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that the meeting the President had with the families of those lost was not "about soliciting advice" on an Afghanistan strategy.
That strategy, weeks in the making, has been the subject of speculation and angst among many on the Hill.
"I think they're being ambivalent and sending very bad signals to the rest of the world of whether or not the United States is really committed..." lamented Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.
Grassley says the death of some of those very soldiers who returned home to rest "shows that they need additional supplement of -- of troops and -- and that, since it's his policy that he announced in March towards Afghanistan, since he picked General McChrystal, he ought to do what General McChrystal has asked and that's for 40,000 troops."
The White House continues to say the President will announce his decision in the coming weeks.