News / USA

US Defense Chief: Passionate Debate, Not Division Over Afghan War Strategy

'Obama's Wars' is a new book by Bob Woodward
'Obama's Wars' is a new book by Bob Woodward
Meredith Buel

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there was a heated debate last year over the Obama administration's war strategy in Afghanistan.  But Gates said Thursday he expects no major changes in the approach when the government carries out a review in December.  

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary Gates was asked to comment on allegations in a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, which says U.S. President Barack Obama's top advisors argued over how to fight the war in Afghanistan.

Excerpts from the book, called Obama's Wars, say some key administration officials are doubtful the strategy will succeed.

Gates, who agreed to be interviewed for the book, made three points about the contents.

"The first is conflict sells," said Robert Gates. "The second, the relationship among senior officials in this administration is as harmonious as any I've experienced in my time in government.  And the third, and I believe this very strongly, is presidents are always well-served when there is a vigorous and spirited debate over important issues."

The Washington Post and The New York Times newspapers have published excerpts from the book, ahead of its scheduled release next week.

The book claims that although U.S. military leaders only offered plans to deploy larger numbers of troops in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama called for an exit strategy, with no long-term nation-building.

The president decided last December to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, fewer than the military had requested.  Mr. Obama also announced a July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, depending on security conditions in the country.

The Woodward book details alleged strong personal differences and infighting among some Obama administration officials.

Gates said that once the president announced his decision, the government moved collectively to implement the strategy.

"People were often passionate about their views," he said. "But I will tell you that once the president made his decision, this team came together and has been working together to execute this strategy.  And that was last December."

This December, the military is scheduled to conduct  a review of the Afghan war.  Gates says he does not expect any major changes in U.S. strategy.

"I have not gotten a sense from my conversations with people that any basic decisions or basic - basic changes are - are likely to occur," said Gates. "I suspect that we will find some areas where we can make some adjustments and tweaks to try and enhance what's going on now."

Gates and top commanders say there are tentative signs of progress in Afghanistan, where nearly 150,000 U.S. and allied forces are fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid