- Associated Press - Sunday, August 1, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates predicts that only a small number of U.S. forces will come home from Afghanistan when a presidentially mandated withdrawal begins a year from now.

Mr. Gates reaffirmed in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that a withdrawal will begin in July 2011. He said that he thinks the initial pullout will be modest and that a large number of U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon chief said the pace of the withdrawal would pick up as security conditions improve.

The United States will have more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of this summer. The plan is to begin bringing them home next July, with the scope of the pullout to be determined by security conditions then.