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That request is usually characterized as being for 40,000 more troops, but also is reported to have included an option for an increase of 80,000.

Mr. Obama has been criticized for conducting the review process in public for so long, though the leaking of Gen. McChrystal’s report in August made it impossible to keep the process under wraps. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said recently that Mr. Obama is “dithering,” and numerous Republicans have said the delay is endangering U.S. troops.

But retired Gen. Colin L. Powell voiced support for the review process on Wednesday. The former secretary of state to President George W. Bush has been an Obama supporter but occasionally has expressed concern about the new president’s agenda.

“This is the decision that will have consequences for the better part of his administration,” Mr. Powell said on the Tom Joyner radio show.