Gates rules out change in US' 'considered' Afghan war policy

Washington, Sept 24 (ANI): While expressing full confidence in the strategy in Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has reportedly rejected assertions that a fractious internal debate had hobbled policy for Afghanistan, and added that he expected no major shift in direction when the Obama administration completed a review of the war effort in December.

"I suspect that we will find some areas where we can make some adjustments and tweaks to try and enhance what's going on. I have not gotten the sense from my conversations with people that any basic changes are likely to occur," The New York Times quoted Gates, as saying.

"I wouldn't sign the deployment orders if I didn't believe that," he added.

After months of debate, Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the new strategy for Afghanistan approved by President Obama, which called for a substantial build-up of forces, to be followed by a withdrawal beginning next July.

The pace of the withdrawal is expected to depend on the ability of Afghan forces to start taking over security responsibilities, the paper reports.

The release of a new book, "Obama's Wars," by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, has again raised questions about whether the compromises that resulted from the lengthy debate over the policy last year ultimately undermined the counterinsurgency strategy, which required large additional commitments of troops, money and patience.

However, Gates stated that it was time "to narrow the focus of the military mission to those key districts that mattered in terms of reversing the momentum of the Taliban, denying them control of territory where there was population, degrading their capabilities at the same time we were enhancing the capabilities of the Afghan security forces." (ANI)

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