Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with a seven-member bipartisan delegation of House members this morning as part of his new strategy of lining up support behind President Obama's Afghanistan strategy -- whatever that turns out to be.
"He said that when we do make a decision, Republicans have an obligation not to make Afghanistan "Obama's war,'" said Pete King (R-NY), one of five GOP members to vote for a recent defense appropriations bill the party opposed over IMF funding.
Other attendees at the 8 a.m. breakfast in Gates' private Pentagon dining room included: Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Vic Snyder (D-Ark.).
King, who supports Gen. Stanley McChrystal's call for 40,000 additional combat troops, emphasized the need for Obama's battle plan to be based on regional military and political objectives and not the vicissitudes of Congressional opinion.
"We can't have half measures," King told me.
Kirk, who is running for Obama's Senate seat in Illinois, is an Army reservist who still works one day a month at the Pentagon. He handed Gates a map of Russian troop deployments in Afghanistan to underscore his argument that troop levels need to be large enough to ensure victory over the Taliban and Islamic insurgents.
The general accepted Kirk's gift with a poker-face, giving little indication of his opinions on McChrystal's proposed surge, King added.