Speaking to reporters in Oslo today, President Barack Obama tried to clarify the conflicting statements by administration officials on the July 2011 timetable in Afghanistan, insisting as other officials had before that there was no rush in reducing the size of America’s massive military commitment to Afghanistan.
“I have been unambiguous about this, so there should not be a debate,” Obama declared. Yet the president’s initial comments were quickly disavowed by several top officials, including the Secretaries of State and Defense, who insisted the July 2011 date was not a firm one.
And President Obama’s comments today stood in stark contrast to his claim lasty week that America would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.” Today, he seemed careful to avoid the word ‘withdraw’ and insisted that the July date would be the beginning of a “transfer of responsibility” but not necessarily of troop removal, which would be “conditions based”
President Obama used Iraq as an analogy, where US forces began talking about a transition in Mid 2007, but two and a half years later have only removed a handful of troops.