Reacting to the very public differences in comments between Afghan commander General Stanley McChrystal and President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denies that there is any rift between the two sides.
Gates said he had spoken on the phone with Gen. McChrystal on Wednesday and that he “supported” President Obama’s delay in making his decision on the troop escalation. This seems different from Gen. McChrystal’s public comments, where he cautioned that any debate shouldn’t take too long.
Gates says that the “review” that is going to take place before Obama announces his decision, widely expected to be support of the additional escalation, will take “a few weeks.”
The defense secretary insists that he is against the strategy of focusing on air strikes over escalating ground troops, but had yet to formally come out in favor of the McChrystal escalation. He has, however, insisted that the US must not under any circumstances set a deadline for withdraw, insisting that was a mistake made by the Soviets in their 10 year long failed occupation of Afghanistan.