Gates says U.S. may stay in Afghanistan past 2014 deadline

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said from Afghanistan on Monday that the U.S. military is well positioned to start withdrawing some troops in July, though he said a U.S. presence may remain in the country past the 2014 deadline to transfer security control to local forces.

Gates arrived in Afghanistan on Monday on an unannounced trip to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and visit the country's restive eastern and southern provinces to assess conditions as he decides how many troops to withdraw in July. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters en route to Afghanistan that "there are more talks to take place and more work to be done once [Gates] is home," before any official decisions are made about the size and scope of troop withdrawals.

Gates told troops in Afghanistan that the U.S. may remain in the country past a 2014 deadline for the end of combat operations to train Afghan soldiers. "Here in Afghanistan, we're in the process right now of beginning a negotiation with the Afghan government for a long-term security partnership.... We are fully prepared to have a continuing presence here assisting the Afghans after 2014.... Obviously it would be a small fraction of the presence that we have today," Gates said, according to Agence-France Presse.

The issue of civilian casualties was also part of Gates's visit: Karzai on Sunday rejected the personal apology of Gen. David Petraeus, top commander of U.S. and NATO forces there, for the mistaken killings of nine children in Afghanistan last week when two helicopters fired on what they thought were insurgents. Petraeus apologized for the incident at an Afghan National Security Council meeting on Sunday in addition to his public apology last week.

"The people of Afghanistan are tired of these incidents and excuses, and condemnations cannot relieve their pain," Karzai said on Sunday.

Gates addressed the issue at a news conference alongside Karzai, saying that the incident "breaks our heart," and called it a "setback" for U.S. relations with the Afghan people. Karzai accepted the apology.

From Afghanistan, Gates will fly to Germany to visit the U.S. Africa Command and then continue to Brussels to attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.