The military is digging in its heels against the idea of a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I think we shouldn’t let up on the gas too much, at least for the next few months,” Robert Gates told troops yesterday, as he finished his final trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary. Gates' comments come after a meeting with General Petraeus, who is working on a suggested withdrawal plan, the New York Times reports.
Military officials say they’re not yet comfortable that Afghan troops can handle their own security. Around 30% of them desert every year, and 90% of them can’t read, forcing the US to devote time to teaching them basic literacy skills like writing their names and reading weapon serial numbers. Pentagon officials met with President Obama yesterday, and though they made no recommendations, they tried to convince a skeptical White House that they are making valuable progress. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)