With the decision on the long-promised July 2011 dradown likely just weeks away, the Pentagon is pushing not only to keep this to a bare minimum, but to ensure that the most recent escalation of the war continues through the fall of next year.
The delay was reported to be extremely politically convenient for the Obama Administration, as it would allow the president to time a withdrawal for immediately before his 2012 reelection bid. The Pentagon insisted this was not a consideration in their recommendation.
And indeed, the plan is more about delaying the drawdown than anything else. Several drawdown dates have slipped over the past few months and officials are already openly talking about keeping troops in Afghanistan well beyond the end of 2014, supposed the current “end” of the war.
This would mean setting “Fall 2012” as the end of the surge doesn’t mean it will actually happen then, it rather ensures that it won’t happen before then. In the year and a half between now and then, plenty of excuses to keep it going even longer are bound to come up, particularly in the endlessly war-torn Afghanistan.