President Obama has said that U.S. forces will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011. But Lt. Gen. Caldwell’s statement today indicates that the drawdown will still be in progress three-and-a-half years after it begins.
In July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared: “I am determined that our Afghan security forces will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations throughout the country by 2014.”
On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen indicated that they supported Karzai’s transition timeline.
But during a telephone discussion with bloggers on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Caldwell explained that this meant that by the last day of December in 2014 Afghan security forces will be in the lead role in that country with U.S. forces in support.