The first areas to be transferred to Afghan security in July 2011 - the date set in President Obama's strategy - will probably be in the least contested areas, “some of which perhaps could happen now,” said Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday. He was speaking at the second day of Congressional hearings on Obama's Afghanistan plan, which he outlined Tuesday night.
"I think something that is important to clarify is that this is going to be a gradual process of transition, and it will probably - the transition to Afghan security responsibility - will start presumably in the least contested areas, some of which perhaps could happen now," Gates said.
A Pentagon spokesman said some of the western and northern Afghanistan provinces have good security, but that the plan is to start transferring authority in summer 2011.
The day before, Gates had noted the administration will conduct "a thorough review" of the Afghan strategy in December 2010. "If it appears that the strategy's not working, and that we are not going to be able to transition in 2011, then we will take a hard look at the strategy itself," Gates said.