Gates Remains Optimistic, Insists Afghan War Will Be Won In ‘a Few Years’

"We Have Done Some Real Damage Over Time"

Addressing the delayed but evidently forthcoming Afghan War review of top commander General Stanley McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates insists that there will be no specific recommendations regarding the number of additional troops needed in Afghanistan. This is somewhat surprising as Gen. McChrystal had been widely expected to call for a further escalation, but may explain the delay, which reportedly came when the general was ordered to “take into consideration a few other ideas.”

However Obama Administration officials are also saying they expect the report sometime shortly after next week’s Afghan presidential election, and that too may be a reason for its delay, so as not to impact the result of the vote.

Considering the disastrous results of the first eight years of the war, Secretary Gates remained remarkably upbeat about America’s prospects of obtaining a military victory in a land in which legitimate foreign victories have been few and far between.

Though the nation has been torn by record violence, Gates insisted “we have done some real damage over time” in fighting the various insurgent factions in the nation, and said military victory will take “a few years,” the most optimistic projection seen from a major official in recent days.

By contrast, the top British commander in Afghanistan last week said he believes the war will last another 40 years, and that even at this point it would just have reached a point where Afghan forces might be able to handle security themselves. Gates doesn’t make clear how many years “a few” is, but it must surely be less than 40.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.