President Obama was given a chance to see up close the real cost of the war on U.S. forces on Thursday, as he continues to weigh his options about troop levels in Afghanistan.
The president's decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan is expected any day now.
He will hold one of the last meetings on the subject with his war council on Friday at the White House.
At that meeting, the president is expected to look at a map of Afghanistan that shows all the provinces. Earlier in the week, the president asked his senior staff to find out how the provinces are being run and what the security needs are in each of them.
A senior administration official told the Washington Post on Thursday that, "The president wants the clearest possible understanding of what the challenges are to our forces and what is required to meet that challenge."
Meanwhile, Obama was given a somber glimpse of the toll the war is taking on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
In an unscheduled visit to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the president for first time witnessed the returning bodies of 15 service members and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents who were killed in action earlier this week. He also met with the families of the fallen.
"The American people want to honor the dead and that they were pleased to see the president of the United States show up in the middle of the night to honor the 18 people that died in Afghanistan fighting for the country," said John Fund of the Wall Street Journal.
October has been the war's deadliest month for U.S forces. Despite the toll and the cost of waging that war, President Obama says he will never hesitate to use force to protect America or the country's vital interests.
But the American public isn't convinced yet that it is absolutely necessary to fight this war.
Wednesday's twin attacks by the Taliban on a U.N. compound and hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan didn't help.
Security has been beefed-up across the city as Afghan election officials scramble to get ready for next week's presidential run-off.