When All Else Fails

US officials back away from July 2011 Afghan withdrawal deadline

by Agence France-Presse, RawStory

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates rejected suggestions Sunday that US forces will move out of Afghanistan in large numbers in July of next year under a deadline set by President Barack Obama.

“That absolutely has not been decided,” Gates said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

His comment was the latest indication that the magnitude of the drawdown, if not the deadline itself, is the subject of an intensifying internal debate at a time when a NATO-led campaign against the Taliban is going slower than expected.

Vice President Joe Biden, an early skeptic of the US military buildup in Afghanistan, was quoted as telling author Jonathan Alter recently: “In July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it.”

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel did not deny the Biden quote when asked about it, but, like Gates, said that the size of the drawdown would depend on conditions on the ground.

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