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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs