Gates Says Afghanistan a 'Tough Pull,' But Improving

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the spike in U.S. casualties in Afghanistan was expected and that people are too quick to say the war is going badly.

Gates tells "Fox News Sunday" the war is a "tough pull." But he says momentum is shifting toward the United States and its partners.

He acknowledges that the war effort in the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan is going more slowly than planned. He also acknowledges problems with corruption and thievery among the Afghan army forces - who are supposed to take over when the U.S. and other countries leave Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is reaffirming its pledge to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next summer.

But the Pentagon and the White House are still saying different things about how many troops will leave - and when.

President Barack Obama's chief of staff tells ABC's "This Week" that the July 2011 date to begin withdrawal is firm. Rahm Emanuel isn't disputing quoted remarks from Vice President Joe Biden that "a whole lot" of troops would leave.

Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, told Congress last week that he'd recommend putting off the withdrawal if need be. He said security conditions and the Afghan government have to be ready to handle a U.S. drawdown.

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