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Obama has troop request but not formally

The president has his top Afghan commander

U.S. Army personnel patrol during a ceremony where the US army gave 2 bulldozers to the Baghdad municipality, at Yarmouk joint security center of U.S and Iraqis, in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, March, 16, 2009. U.S. troops will not be removed from areas of Iraq that are not completely secure or where there is a high probability that attacks could resume after the Americans leave, Iraq's prime minister said Sunday.Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview with The Associated Press that he had told President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials that any withdrawals "must be done with our approval" and in coordination with the Iraqi government. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The president has his top Afghan commander's troop request in hand -- but did it come at the expense of the military chain of command?

When the president asked for the request last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates turned it over -- bypassing the military's top officers, who would ordinarily get to add their own comments first. Was that more evidence of a rift between those in uniform and their civilian bosses?

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell emphatically denies it.

Morrell says Gates held the document to avoid leaks, and the president will get a formal copy with the officers' comments.

The White House says that could happen as soon as tomorrow.

The administration says the president's focus remains on deciding on a strategy first, before any decision on a number.

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