US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived Tuesday in Afghanistan with plans to assure officials and American troops there that the United States is committed to winning the war despite plans to begin pulling forces out in 2011.
"We are in this thing to win," Gates told reporters while traveling to Kabul, where he plans to meet privately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and later with troops bearing the brunt of combat.
The secretary's trip to Afghanistan is the first by a Cabinet member since President Barack Obama's announcement last week that he will deploy 30,000 more troops with the intention of starting to bring them home in July 2011.
As Gates took his message abroad, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the overall military commander in Afghanistan, will try Tuesday to convince a skeptical Congress that more troops are needed to fight a growing enemy insurgency. More than 920 US troops have died in the 8-year-old war.