Gates warns on Afghanistan pullback

2011-06-06 22:37

Ghazni Province - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates wrapped up an emotional farewell visit to military posts in Afghanistan on Monday warning against pulling troops out too quickly.

Gates was asked repeatedly during his tour how the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would affect US strategy and what the impact would be on President Barack Obama's plan to begin pulling out troops from Afghanistan in July.

"My view is that we've got to keep the pressure on. We're not quite there yet," he said.

"I think we've made headway on our major goals, which have been to disrupt al-Qaeda and try and defeat them. Clearly the killing of bin Laden was a big deal in that," Gates told a soldier at Combat Outpost Andar in Ghazni Province.

"We've still got a ways to go and I just think we shouldn't let up on the gas too much at least for the next few months."

US General David Petraeus, commander of the 150 000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, is due to make recommendations to Obama on how many soldiers can be pulled out.

Obama promised to begin pulling troops out in July 2011 when he announced a plan in December 2009 to deploy an additional 30 000 troops to arrest a growing Taliban-led insurgency.

Earlier this year it appeared likely that only a few thousand troops might initially be withdrawn.

But budget pressures and the killing of bin Laden have led to calls for a larger withdrawal or a shift to a counter-terrorism strategy that would focus on fighting al Qaeda and its allies and could be done with fewer troops.

Gates told a soldier he did not see how counter terrorism would work without a significant counterinsurgency effort to provide security and economic opportunities for the population.

Counter-terrorism activity is "taking a lot of Taliban leaders off the battlefield", he said. But "key to gathering the intelligence to be able to do the counter-terrorism mission is the population feeling secure enough that they're willing to share information with you," he added.

Gates said as Afghan forces assumed more of the security operations, US troops could begin to focus their efforts on counter terrorism.

"I see the two as integrally linked and I think over time our mission will be less and less Coin (counterinsurgency) and more and more counter terrorism, so there will be a transition to that. I don't think we're ready to do that yet," he said.

Gates, who steps down as Pentagon chief at the end of June, visited five military outposts across the east, south and southwest of Afghanistan over the past two days, fielding questions from troops and bidding them an emotional farewell.

"Probably more than anybody but the president himself, I am responsible for your being here," he told one group.

"You all are in my thoughts every minute of every day."

At each stop he has shaken hands with soldiers, had a picture taken with them and presented them with a so-called challenge coin, a specially minted medallion with the secretary of defense's seal.

A spokesperson said Gates had handed out about 1 800 coins over the past two days.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  david petraeus  |  osama bin laden  |  robert gates  |  us  |  afghanistan  |  security
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.