Robert Gates and Hamid Karzai seemed to contradict each other at a press conference in Kabul today, with Gates saying the US commitment in Afghanistan isn’t open ended, and Karzai saying it will be at least 5 years before Afghanistan is ready for a US withdrawal. Gates arrived in Afghanistan today, in a visit that wasn’t announced ahead of time for security reasons.
Gates pledged strong support for Afghanistan. Though he reiterated Obama’s pledge to begin pulling out troops in July of 2011, he said it would be a “gradual” and “conditions-based” decline, that could take years. His message, he told reporters on the plane, is: “We are in this thing to win.” Karzai, meanwhile, said it would take five years of “maximum effort” before Afghanistan could “hopefully” secure itself, and that it’d need foreign funding for 15 to 20 years.