Tags: Gates | Afghanistan

Gates Begins Farewell Visits with Troops

Sunday, 05 Jun 2011 09:27 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WALTON, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his concern about pulling troops out of Afghanistan too soon as he embarked Sunday on two days of farewell visits to remote U.S. bases in this war-weary country.

He began by flying to a base near Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan, where he was greeted by soldiers and lunched with junior enlisted troops.

Gates is retiring at the end of the month and is assessing the situation on the ground ahead of an expected decision within weeks by President Barack Obama on the start of a U.S. troop withdrawal this summer.

The visit is Gates' 12th and final to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief.

In response to questions from a group of soldiers at Walton, Gates indicated he is concerned about pulling out combat troops too early in Obama's planned drawdown.

"For my money, the question is — if it were up to me, I would leave the shooters for last," he said. "Shooter" is military slang for a combat soldier.

Many in the military have said the first to withdraw should be support troops, not combat forces. But it's not clear if that would fit Obama's plan.

At Walton, Lt. Col. Clay Padgett, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, seemed to share Gates' view that it's too early to make major changes on the ground. He told reporters that in the Kandahar City area where his troops operate it may take another six months to see whether progress in their efforts to get more Afghan civilians involved in local governance can continue after international forces begin leaving.

"It's either going to stick or it's going to go backward," Padgett said.

Speaking earlier in Kabul, Gates appealed for patience with the war, now in its 10th year, and said that only modest U.S. troop reductions would make sense this summer in a still unstable Afghanistan.

He held out the possibility of a turning point in the unpopular war by year's end. But Gates said much depends on whether the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden creates a new opening for peace negotiations with leaders of the Taliban insurgency.

This and other aspects of the war were on the agenda for Gates' meetings on Saturday with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander here, and with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

Gates stressed the effectiveness of U.S.-led NATO military operations against the Taliban over the past year, after Obama ordered an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Gains have been notable in the south, the heartland of the Taliban movement.

Gates also spoke Saturday at a news conference with President Hamid Karzai, who repeatedly stressed his anger at civilian deaths caused by airstrikes. He also criticized night raids and the jailing of innocent people.

"We cannot take this anymore," Karzai said. He made no mention of civilian deaths attributed to Taliban fighters.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Mali's Islamists Withdraw Cease-Fire Pledge

Friday, 04 Jan 2013 13:06 PM

Tens of thousands of Fatah supporters rallied in the Hamas stronghold of Gaza on Friday for the first time since they we . . .

Fmr. CIA Director Hayden: Iran Nuclear Crisis Gets 'Scarier'

Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012 18:11 PM

 . . .

Join Fmr. CIA Director for Special Iran Briefing, Assess the Danger

Friday, 13 Jul 2012 12:27 PM

 . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved