"Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission," Cheney said.

"The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger."

Troop deployments

Cheney was referring to a request by General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and Nato forces in Iraq, for more troops to be deployed across Afghanistan to combat forces loyal to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

McChrystal is reported to be seeking between 30,000 and 40,000 more US troops for the military campaign in Afghanistan, but Obama has not reached a decision on what the future military strategy should be.

Gibbs hit out at Cheney's suggestion that Obama is not moving fast enough on troop deployments to Afghanistan, citing the Bush administration's delay in deploying previous US troop contingents.

"The vice-president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan. Even more curious given the fact that an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House [during George Bush's presidency] - including the vice-president's [Cheney] - for more than eight months."

"I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously."