Obama Weighs Quicker Afghanistan Pullout

But Gates, Petraeus point to risks

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 6, 2011 6:54 AM CDT | Updated Jun 6, 2011 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – With Osama bin Laden dead and war costs increasing, the Obama administration is weighing a sharper drawdown of troops from Afghanistan than it had planned, the New York Times reports. But the issue is still very much up in the air, and outgoing defense secretary Robert Gates advocates slower steps. “I would try to maximize my combat capability as long as this process goes on—I think that’s a no-brainer,” he said. “I’d opt to keep the shooters and take the support out first.”

Meanwhile, David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, has warned about Taliban attempts to “regain momentum” after setbacks in Helmand and Kandahar. “We’ve always said they would be compelled to try to come back.” As Gates makes his last tour of Afghanistan, there’s no evidence of a slowdown, Politico notes. “It’s still violent, and the security gains will be ephemeral if we don’t have get it right on the Afghan side and civilian side,” says one top official. “We have the density. But do we have the time?”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks to troops at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates speaks to troops at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, pool)
Gates, right, hands a challenge coin bearing his name to a soldier as he thanks troops for their service at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.
Gates, right, hands a challenge coin bearing his name to a soldier as he thanks troops for their service at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, pool)
Robert Gates, left, talks with a U.S. Marine at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dwyer, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.
Robert Gates, left, talks with a U.S. Marine at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Dwyer, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, pool)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, centre, thanks troops at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, centre, thanks troops at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Walton in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jason Reed, pool)
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