‘Keep the Shooters’: Gates Pushes to Minimize July Afghan Drawdown

Insists Move Should Withdraw Only Support Troops

Speaking today on the oft-hyped drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made clear that he is still pressing to minimize it as much as possible, saying its a “no-brainer” for him to do so.

I’d opt to keep the shooters, and take the support out first,” Gates suggested, which of course would trivialize the drawdown’s meaning. This seemed deliberate as he warned that the drawdown might convince other nations to reduce their own forces.

The US has previously used the tactic of swapping out support for combat troops to argue that escalations weren’t really escalations. Likewise, previous escalations have allowed the addition of support troops beyond the official numbers to mask their size.

Officials have often differed on the seriousness of the July drawdown but the recent indications are that something is likely to happen. Still, Admiral Michael Mullen insists that now drawdown plan has even been submitted yet.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.