Gates: After 2014, US Should Stay Involved in Afghanistan

Officials agree on engagement beyond deadline, says defense secretary
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 7, 2011 6:46 AM CST
Gen. David Petraeus, left, top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, waits to greet U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates upon Gates' arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan Monday, March 7, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
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(Newser) – Both the US and Afghanistan agree that the US military should maintain its involvement with Afghanistan past 2014 by continuing to train and advise Afghan troops, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Obviously it would be a small fraction of the presence that we have today, but I think we're willing to do that,” Gates told troops in Afghanistan today during a two-day visit.

The defense secretary expects to hear that US and NATO troops are making major progress against Taliban fighters, said a Pentagon rep. Officials expect an upcoming Taliban counteroffensive “to regain very, very valuable territory lost over the past six to eight months,” says a general; Gates sees the coming months as key to President Obama’s strategy in the region, the AP reports. Meanwhile, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has called a US apology for the accidental killing of Afghan boys insufficient, saying civilian casualties are “not acceptable” any more.

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