Gates promises significant troop cut in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has assured lawmakers there will be a significant troop reduction in Afghanistan by 2014, when the security transition process is scheduled to be completed.
"These projections assume that the number of troops in Afghanistan will be significantly reduced by the end of 2014 in accordance with the president's and NATO's strategy," Gates told a congressional committee on Wednesday.
In his last testimony as defence secretary, he said: "If our assumptions prove incorrect, there's plenty of time to adjust the size and schedule of this change. The progress made in Afghanistan since President Obama announced his new strategy had been impressive, he added.
"The sacrifices our troops are willing to endure to protect this country is nothing short of amazing. And all they ask in return is that the country support them in their efforts through to success," the secretary added.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama would be looking at recommendations from his commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus and having discussions with his commanders and national security team.
"I'm not going to give you a blow-by-blow (account) of when those meetings are taking place and the content of those meetings, but he will make a decision soon about the beginning of the drawdown. I would make the point that this is the continuation, the implementation of a process he set in motion in December of 2009."
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