- Selfies gone too far? N.Y. woman snaps photo in front of suicidal man on bridge
- Rob Ford gets D.C. sports radio gig: Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor will make NFL picks
- Israel mulls gift of West Bank land to Palestinians
- Stocks gain as investors weigh economic news
- Doctors say ‘profound’ new HIV treatment may prove the cure
- Mexican truck with radioactive load stolen
- NYPD head Ray Kelly wins big retirement perk — a $1.5M tax-paid team of bodyguards
- Pentagon weighing ‘second start’ for overexposed youth in social media
- Libraries to feds: Stop spying on us
- Britain eyes new powers to thwart Islamic extremists
Gates: Progress in Afghan war must come this year
Question of the Day
LONDON | Public support for the war in Afghanistan will evaporate unless the nations leading the fight against insurgents can show by the end of this year that the eight-year war is not locked in stalemate, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday.
“All of us, for our publics, are going to have to show by the end of the year that our strategy is on the track, making some headway,” Mr. Gates said ahead of meetings with NATO allies long weary of the war.
Mr. Gates and other U.S. leaders have set such unofficial deadlines before, and they have proved elastic. Several times last year, Mr. Gates said the American public needed to see progress within a year or 18 months. In August 2009, he said progress had to be demonstrated “this year.”
Mr. Gates also said he expects to begin handing over responsibility for security in some areas of Afghanistan as soon as winter. That would be ahead of the deadline President Obama set to begin to bring U.S. forces home in July 2011. There is no firm end date for how long U.S. forces will stay.
“In virtually all of the coalition countries, the publics are going to expect to see some progress this winter, some sign that we are moving in the right direction. I think the voters are sophisticated enough to know that we’re not going to be done,” Mr. Gates said.
Support for the Afghanistan war is dropping in the United States after a period of relatively strong approval for the war and the retooled strategy Mr. Obama announced last year. He followed the announcement with a surge of 30,000 U.S. forces intended to seize momentum from the revived Taliban insurgency.
The U.S. and its allies, fighting alongside Afghan soldiers, do have the upper hand in many parts of the country. But crucial areas remain under the Taliban thumb, with little sign the allies are making headway in persuading local people to throw off the insurgents and align with the central government in Kabul.
Support for the war also is falling in Britain, the most important U.S. partner in Afghanistan.
Mr. Gates said war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal is “pretty confident” he can show progress in the next seven months. Mr. Gates will huddle with Gen. McChrystal later this week.
On Thursday, Mr. Gates will meet in Brussels with defense ministers of the 46 NATO nations and other allies participating in the 122,000-strong international force in Afghanistan.
The meeting is intended to take stock of the situation. Diplomats say they will emphasize the need to boost the training of Afghanistan’s army, which is due to grow to 134,000 troops by the end of 2010 and gradually assume greater responsibility for the country’s security.
Mr. Gates said NATO nations have failed to provide about 450 troops to serve as trainers for Afghan soldiers.
“My view is those allies and partners who are not prepared to commit combat forces or to increase the number of their combat forces should step up when it comes to trainers,” Mr. Gates said.
Ministers also will consider proposals to streamline NATO’s bureaucracy and its complex military command structure in order to achieve savings at a time when many European nations are planning deep cuts in defense spending.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
Bad science puts rich nations on the hook for trillions in climate liabilities
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- MILLER: Obamas EPA closing smelter will not affect ammunition supply
- Issa: FBI impeding inquiry into IRS targeting of conservative groups
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Westboro Baptists slam actor Paul Walker: He's 'in Hell'
- Last call: State Dept. bought $180,000 in liquor before shutdown
- Apple wins facial recognition patent for iPhone 6
- Harry Reid gives some staffers a pass on Obamacare
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.