Gen. David Petraeus telling NBC today the latest thinking on the announced July :
"The president has been clear… this is the date when the process begins which is conditions based," Petraeus insisted, adding that he reserved the right to tell the President it was "too early."
Further into the interview, while predicting that difficulties would continue, Gen. Petraeus also claimed that the war began making "progress" in the spring, a surprising claim considering every metric from civiilian to military death tolls and IED attacks has risen precipitously since then. He also took occasion to condemn WikiLeaks as "very reprehensible" for releasing classified documents showing just how poorly the war has been going.
Beyond that, Gen. Petraeus maintained that the primary goal of the war in Afghanistan, with its 150,000 NATO troops, is to "arrest Osama bin Laden." Countless officials, including Petraeus himself, have maintained for years that bin Laden has left Afghanistan.
What Obama said back in December 2009:
And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home….
These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government—and, more importantly, to the Afghan people—that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.
He also promised that "all troops" will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.