Gates: Some troops could leave Afghanistan early

US defense secretary 'very impressed' by Afghan troops' training.

March 10, 2010 10:54
2 minute read.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, talks wi

gates eikenberry afghanistan 311. (photo credit: AP)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

PUL-E-CHARKHI, Afghanistan — US Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised the possibility Wednesday that some of the US forces involved in the Afghanistan surge could leave the country before US President Barack Obama's announced July 2011 date to begin withdrawal.

Without giving specifics, Gates said, "It would have to be conditions-based."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Gates made the remarks during a visit to a dust-blown training ground in Kabul province where Afghan soldiers come for weeks of training under US and British instruction. British Brigadier Simon Levy told Gates that if NATO countries contribute more trainers, the project to expand the Afghan army will keep pace.

The goal is to reach 134,000 trained forces this fall. The Pentagon hopes the Afghans will soon ease the load on US forces.

In a press conference with Gates, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said his troops are eager to take on the responsibility for defending the country, but gave no indication of when that might be possible.

Gates said, "We will begin that transition no later than July of 2011, but the pace will depend also on conditions on the ground."

Still, the Pentagon chief said, "We should not be too impatient."

Gates watched as Afghan troops dealt with a simulated roadside bomb explosion. He stood on an embankment above the road as Afghan soldiers leapt out of a convoy, tended to casualties and contained the explosive.

He said he was very impressed by what he saw.

"Although attention may be focused on operations in the south today, the training that is going on in this facility is even more important," he said. "At the end of the day, only Afghans will be able to provide long-term security for Afghanistan."

US forces are engaged in a major offensive against Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan. Gates visited some of those troops Tuesday.

Reporters also asked Gates about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announced visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

"It's certainly bothersome," he said. "We think Afghanistan should have good relations with all its neighbors, but we want all of Afghanistan's neighbors" to deal fairly with President Hamid Karzai's government.

Gates has accused Teheran of "playing a double game" in Afghanistan by trying to woo the Afghan government while undermining US and NATO efforts by helping the Taliban.

Related Content

US President Donald Trump reacts to a question during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office o
August 21, 2018
Trump vows 'no concessions' with Turkey over detained U.S. pastor