BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that both the U.S. and Afghan governments agree on continued but reduced American military involvement after combat operations end in 2014.
Gates told a group of American troops today that it would be just a small fraction of the presence that the U.S. has today, to help train and advise Afghan forces. A soldier asked Gates about a long-term military presence, and Gates noted that Washington and Kabul have recently begun negotiating a security partnership. He mentioned no details.
Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters flying with the Pentagon chief from Washington that Gates wants to get a first-hand feel for changes on the ground since he last was in
Afghanistan in December.
The U.S. is committed to beginning a troop withdrawal in July. But the size and scope of the pullback will depend on the degree of progress toward handing off full control to the shaky Afghan government.