WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he'll make a decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan when he returns from weeklong trip to East Asia.
But his strategy won't be based on any of the options presented by his national security team, including General Stanley McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops.
Instead, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Obama will pull elements from each option.
There are also new concerns raised by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry that building up American troop levels could actually make Afghanistan more dependent on the U.S. - a sentiment that goes against McChrystal's request for additional troops.
In addition, there are still worries about corruption in Afghanistan's government.
"We're looking to President Karzai, as he forms a new government, to take action that will demonstrate, not to the international community, but first and foremost to his own people that his second term will respond to the needs that are so manifest," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh says alliance forces should begin handing responsibility over to Afghan forces as soon as next year, where it's possible.
"If we left Afghanistan behind, terrorism could easily spread through central Asia and further, and could destabilize Pakistan, a nuclear power, and that would be a very, very dangerous situation," Fogh warned.
A British captain who's been on the ground serving in Afghanistan agrees and says McChrystal's plan would work.
"General McChrystal's directive towards embedded partnering, which means completely working hand-in-hand with the Afghan national security forces, living with them, planning with them, operating with them," Capt. Andrew Tiernan said.
"His directive is one of those rare documents that is so strikingly correct that it, that everyone who reads it from the lowest ground commander to the most senior military commander understands it's worth, understands what it aims to do..." he said.
The major question remaining is whether after weeks of meetings the U.S. is back at square one. The White House says the president will have a decision when he gets back from Asia.
Meanwhile, communities across the U.S. continue to mark lives lost - like a Veterans Day parade in Indiana held in honor of a solder killed in Afghanistan.