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    Gates advocates residual force post-2014

    WASHINGTOM (PAN): Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday 3,000 proposed residual US troops in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline would be too little and 30,000 would be too many, calling some kind of residual force as important to maintain the country's stability and long-term peace.

     “I think it's very important that we maintain some kind of serious residual presence in Afghanistan for training the Afghan forces and for counterterrorism,” Gates told the CNN in an interview aired Sunday.

    He served as the Defense Secretary in both the previous Bush Administration and the first term of the Obama Administration.

     “I think that kind of residual presence is absolutely critical, first of all to signal the Afghans we aren't abandoning them as we did after they drove the Soviets out in the early '90s or late '80s, but also as a message to the Taliban and to the neighbors that we're not walking away either,” the former Defense Secretary said.

    When asked about the numbers, he said 3,000 is too little and 30,000 is too many. “Well, I guess the way I would put it just instinctively is I strongly believe 3,000 is too little, and 30,000 is too many,” Gates said.

     “When I say 30,000 is too many, I think, first of all, in terms of the cost for us, but also in terms of the tolerance of the Afghans themselves. So it's more a political question than it is a military question,” he said in response to a question.