August 12th, 2010
03:53 PM ET

Questions on July 2011 date dog Petraeus

WASHINGTON — One of the key goals of the new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is to try to settle the debate on what the significance is of the July 2011 date, according to an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) official familiar with Petraeus' thinking.

After a month in the job where he stayed mostly out of public view, the general is preparing a round of interviews with media outlets.

The significance of July 2011 in the Afghanistan war continues to be a question that the administration is struggling to answer clearly.

U.S. military officials are stressing that any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 could be fairly minor and will be based on conditions on the ground. When asked if the number of troops to be withdrawn in July could be relatively small, a senior U.S. military official told reporters "we still think that's the case."

Petraeus, the new commander of international troops in Afghanistan, is expected to underscore the case that the July 2011 date is one that does not necessarily have a predetermined number of troops leaving.

"He's taking a very pragmatic approach and understands that it's a year away, the full uplift isn't even on the ground yet, there are a range of issues outside ISAF control (mostly in governance) and that the enemy has a vote. He's not laying any groundwork - we're just working hard at the mission given by the president," said the ISAF official.

The issue of how many troops could be withdrawn, and how quickly that could happen, continues to dog the Pentagon.

"We keep going around and around and around on this, and the answer is the same as it's always been. We will begin thinning our troops in July of 2011. How many and how fast is going to depend on the situation on the ground," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Wednesday. 

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Petraeus emphasized that the 2011 date is "the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits." Petraeus said the date is meant to put pressure on the Afghan government to step up and take responsibility, but emphasized the U.S. will be assisting the Afghans.

The U.S. and its NATO allies are expected to devote much of a November ministerial meeting to discussing various "metrics" or indicators of success in Afghanistan, the official said. Those metrics will include: the number of trained and equipped Afghan security forces; security conditions in key districts; the ability of the Afghan government to provide basic services to its citizens as well as other indicators of whether areas of the country can be turned over to Afghan control. "The more stable areas are the early candidates for transition," the official said, noting the first areas may be in north.

The ministerial will be followed by a report to President Obama from his commanders in December about whether the overall counterinsurgency strategy is working.  That December report will be instrumental in deciding how to proceed come July 2011.

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. General Dr Bad

    Mcchrystal got his command and rnak lying about tillmans murder.
    this pile of trash got his rank by being bush's puppet as well as lying to congress.
    evry time you open your mouths you show you ignorance. as of course you set nice and safe.
    neather you or your coward leaders or generals are capable of facing reality or fact.
    such experts you all are on everything.
    stay stupid and die. it works for you.
    and go Enlist.

    August 16, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. ronvan

    Be real folks: Patraeus might be the "front man" in Afganistan but his orders come from our "elected children" at home.
    This "nation building" is NOT the militaries job, and is in reality a buch of @#$!@. These countries have lived thier lives as is, for centuries, yet WE think, incorrectly, that they will change! NOT going happen unless THEY want it! What I would like is for someone, not the idiots, with true knowledge of the Muslim religion & the Koran to explain if, in fact, it is true that it says it is OK to kill and maime all the infidels. Right now the only ones I see supporting this point of view are the radical extremeists! It is way beyond the time that we got the heck out of these countries and let them do what they want. This had been and continues to be nothing more than a "political" war, with those making the big bucks supporting it.

    August 16, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. Gary

    To be complete about Al Queda's claims about 9/11, Abu Ayman al-Hilali, a senior Al Queda leader and ideologist stated:
    “Al-Qa’ida took the enemy by surprise with the raids on New York and Washington. Roles were reversed, and the enemy was thrown into confusion by the event. He was left looking for explanations, a prisoner of his reactions. The mujahidin were in motion, moving the battle along, a powerful factor in their favor (sic). This is the secret of the United States’ fear of al-Qa’ida. Al Qa’ida has hit on the correct method for fighting and defeating the Americans, God willing.”

    August 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Vlad

    Former commander of Soviet troops in Afganistan Victor Yermakov said to Paul Armstrong of CNN:
    "Whether it's Tora Bora or Kandahar we would deploy troops, establish order, place a popular government there and render our assistance to it. But when we leave that government runs away."
    If that is true the war is endless and senseless.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John Brooks

    Well Petraus is another idiot in charge of a war the men fighting it do not trust him. The morale is low we have troops in northern Afhganistan doing nothing at all and we took up a cause the soviets spent 10 years trying to win but finally left with huge loss of life. Let's just get out and be done with it. The major corporaions are going to go in and make billions off Afhgan resources anyway. No loss of life on our side is worth this war effort. With two son's there they say it is poorly run and the men don't trust their commanders. Time to go home in July. Let the Afhgans sort it out.

    August 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Daniel-2

    And it seems me too. What is wrong?

    August 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bledsoe

    What was the point of posting that?

    August 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CNN=Trash

    Im surprised Patraeus hasnt faked another fainting episode yet.

    August 14, 2010 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. JRC

    In an article about the questions that dog Petraeus, you would think that there would be a little more from Petraeus. Useless article. Oh, and by the way, don't feed the trolls.

    August 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angle

      Too late, it's alive with them.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gary

    Yes, they offered a justification for the use of violence against civilians. It was not a statement of responsibility. So Al Queda is is the apologist for those who commit themselves to jihad. I guess that the western democracids misunderstood Al Queda's intent in the statement. Al Queda only meant to offer a justification for the acts of the 9/11 hijackers, not take responsibility.

    August 13, 2010 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. paul

    one should not draw conclusions by write-ups in newspapers or comment blogs, the american goverment and thier military is proffessional trained personel, the USA is not bankrupt, even in war they can not leave the enemy annilated to death , the stories fed to you dear folks that our troops are looseing that the enemy is winning is far from the truth , it is easy for whiners to paint those awfull scenes for you people, thier purpose of the war was to go after those people responsible for 9/11 the attack and on the cole ect the americans want to bring a pipeline down from the caspian sea, they want the afghan people to return to normal lives, they should have helped them with after the russians left, they felt that the afghans could do on thier own, but did not work out that way,what they want to do is to work now with the afghan people to start thier economy,s working , the pipeline treaty is a excellent way to start, if peace can now come to the area large company,s and goverments will come to develope mineing, roads, railroad, industry, afghan wages are low they could compete on the world market, look how china started and now is a world power, but a collapse follows world power as china will now spend thier fortunes on military army,s , navy,s air forces, surveilence, spying and thier costs of militaryizm will spiral thier profits away, china once had the largest navy in the world and abandond it to get thier economy going again, to hell with militaryizm , spend the money on your people , jobs, houseing, medical ect.

    August 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph McCarthy


      August 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary

    Al Queda did take credit for the 9/11 attack. The Taliban provided a haven for Al Queda. Did the Afghans know about the plan? Maybe not, but since Al Queda has taken credit for the attack, Taliban had allied their interest with Al Queda, and by geography these group were in Afghanistan, the western democracies felt compelled to view the 9/11 attack as an invitation to fight.

    August 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mordred

      Yes there is proof...tons of it. Besides them admitting to it, we knew loads about the attackers even before they attacked. The attack was also an al qaida style attack. Dont be so self righteous to think that the US cant even figure out who attacked them. Al Qaida are not a bunch of smart guys. They are a bunch of desperate fools, running around a wasteland of a county clinging to the only thing they can. The delusional manifestation of their pathetic existence known as the Muslim religion.

      August 13, 2010 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in WA

      we asked the Taliban to let us come in and take out Al Qaeda they sided with Al Qaeda. The Taliban leadership chose their fate.

      August 16, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • BSTeh

      Mr.Gary, from the reaction and response of the US to 9/11, don't you agree that Al-Qaeda has succeeded in its objective of declaring war on the US and drawing it into a war with multiple fronts. And whereas the US military are an honourable, sophisticated and conventional force fighting for deliverance and freedom, the Al-Qaeda are your typical shadow warriors, ghosting in and hitting you when you least expect and then disappear until the next attack. Even the most powerful military in the world appear to have problems fighting an enemy who won't stand still and who can operate on several fronts and through many affiliates and proxies.

      Under such a situation, who is on the offensive and who the defensive. And what does your basic war manual teach you about using conventional methods to fight an unconventional war. Sure thing, one could take the offensive and take the fight to their theaters of operations and pulverise their landscape and infrastructure and drive them underground and give them no respite nor relief.

      The fact is that the most sophisticated surveillance and military technology has not been able to flush out or liquidate the most wanted of them. Conversely, they keep turning up like so many bad apples in so many locations that they make you spin. Worse, they open up more fronts and stretch your forces thin and your high tech resources ineffectual whereas they have the most vital and damaging resource-time.

      Time is on their side as they are fighting in their own backyard and they know that time is the one luxury their opponents do not have. They go underground every time there is a surge by the coalition forces resulting in significantly reduced insurgent activities and everyone happily reports mission is successful and the surge is working. And why not!

      Any insurgent worth his two bullets know well enough to lay low when the heat is on. Question is: what is there to prevent him from reappearing when the heat is off. Are the local forces capable of containing the insurgents once the foreign forces take off for good or at least until they decide to come back for another tour? Conversely, what if the local forces are unable to resist the insurgents and are over-run? Doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to figure out what happens to collaborators of the foreign invaders if adulterers are stoned to death.

      Deja vu! The Iraqi military establishment has gone on air to voice their concern that they are ready to take from US forces only in two years. How ready are the Afghan forces to take over from the ISAF? Meanwhile back at the ranch, there are suicide bombings in Iraq almost every day and the Shias under Allawi has just walked out of the Iraqi coalition government. Like the favourite US military refrain goes 'the situation will get worse before it gets better' and meanwhile the local population continues to suffer mayhem and deadly violence.

      I understand the expressed US objective was to improve the lives of the Iraqi people through the democratisation process and the implant of human rights and freedom but can these principles and ideals survive and flourish when the Iraqi society is under stress and tension, mayhem and violence, unified and divided. Freed from the brutality of Saddam Hussein but not yet liberated from the scourge of civil war, they may be forgiven for feeling that they have been delivered from between rocks straight into hard places.

      Has the objective been accomplished and at what costs? Or would it have been better to 'let sleeping dogs lie' or live and let live? Good intentions are good insofar as they are achievable and sustainable. Anything else is frivolous and futile, don't you agree?

      August 17, 2010 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
      • Gary

        Excellent observations about the great difficulty of fighting terrorism and the insurgency. Given that the US is going to offend some countries in pursuit of its economic and political interest can we accept the status quo of terrorist action in the United States or against US citizens in foreign countries? Which is worse, to stand for who we are or to cower in fear because we may offend the sensibility of those who would prefer the US did not exist?

        August 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    There should be not one day, of extension to that withdrawal date. Not one.

    August 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete


      I agree. If anything move it up. By then the "Allies" will be gone and we'll have to carry the whole, as if we're not already. Of course the militry is going to cry fould and plead for more time...duh, it's their job we're talking about scrapping.

      We need out and we need it now. All the war mongers I suggest that you fund this stupid war. Pay as you go. I don't want to pay any more, lives or $$$$$$$.

      August 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |