How long will U.S. forces be in Afghanistan? It’s a mystery…

August 13, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says it’s no secret how long U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan.

“In the intelligence business, we always used to categorize information … in two ways: secrets and mysteries,” the former CIA boss told a briefing Thursday.

GATES/“The secrets were things that were ultimately knowable,” Gates said. “The mysteries were those where there were too many variables to predict.”

Yup, you guessed it. How long U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan falls into the mysteries category.

“I think that we are certainly hoping to see progress within a year, in terms of …  the president’s new strategy and General (Stanley) McChrystal’s new strategy and tactics,” Gates said.

The defense secretary said he would like to see the situation moving in the direction seen in Iraq in recent years, with Baghdad able to take more and more responsibility for its own security.

General James Cartwright, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, echoed that thought, saying the situation would be moving in the right direction when Afghan police and army could begin taking on security roles.

How long that takes will depend on the Afghan political environment and on how long it takes to train the country’s security forces, Gates said.

Therein lies the mystery.

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Photo credit: Reuters/jason Reed (Gates flies in helicopter over Kandahar in May)


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american troops were never going to get out of iraq anyway; the so call withdrawal recently was merely a political ploy. look at what is happening there even now, iraqis continue to die. as for afghanistan, nothing of the sort will never happen. the west will just have to come out bold and pull out by themselves.

Posted by saminator | Report as abusive

Let’s see all we have to do is, stabilize the government, neutralize the warlords, stamp out the Taliban and Al Queda, stop the flow of cheap heroin and help the Afghans build some kind of economic footing. All things we could have done by now if we hadn’t been distracted by a Iraq.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

What in the world has been going on in Afghanistan for the past 8 years?

What makes anyone think that, other than a lot of people getting killed and maimed, the situation will be any different 8 years from now?

Posted by K. Bloomfield | Report as abusive