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Gates says he opposed Obama’s Afghan timeline

Gates says he opposed Obama’s Afghan timeline

Jan 22, 2018 - 17:56

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Former US defense secretary Robert Gates says he opposed former president Barack Obama’s Afghanistaninfo-icon war strategy that set dates for the drawdown of US troops.

In an interview with The Seattle Times, Gates said he supports President Donald Trump decision to end timelines for troop drawdown. “The policy basically told the Talibaninfo-icon how long they had to wait. I think it was a big mistake.”

He said that a decision by Trump to deploy more troops in an open-ended engagement could eventually prompt the Taliban to negotiate.

In his 2014 memoir, “Duty,” Gates noted that Obama was much criticized by conservatives for disclosing that the Afghanistan surge that began in 2009 would end in 2011 and that combat troops would leave in 2014.

But “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions,” Gates wrote. Gates also writes that the policy “finally forced a narrowing of our objectives to those obtainable in that time frame.

“I was convinced that we could dramatically weaken the Taliban and strengthen the Afghan army during that period — and if not, then we probably never could.”

Asked about the difference between the book’s account and his remarks to The Seattle Times, Gates said the book reflected his public policy statements while leading the Pentagon. “I think you defend things in public that you may disagree with in private,” Gates said.

As a wartime defense secretary from 2006 to 2011, Gates served under Republican president, George W. Bush, and Democrat Obama and had the difficult duty of sending service members off to war.



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