Gates Says U.S. May Stay in Afghanistan Past 2014 Deadline
by Sara Sorcher
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.