Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he expects the Obama administration will make a decision in the next few days on how many additional troops to send to Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters at a Pentagon news conference, Gates called the internal administration discussions about a troop build up "a very constructive, deliberative process."
He said he thought it was "appropriate" that new administration carefully weigh the issue before acting, saying "this is the first time this president has been asked to deploy a large number of troops overseas."
A senior defense official said earlier Tuesday that it would probably be several weeks before the administration rolls out its long-term strategy in Afghanistan. But Obama has been seen as very likely to approve a request from the top commander in Afghanistan for three more U.S. combat brigades numbering roughly 14,000 troops.