Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates believes there must be changes in what happens in Afghanistan as US and NATO troops depart–that is, we hope they will depart. “When you get into late 2012, 2013, it’s clear that the balance, as we turn more and more responsibility over to the Afghans–that our role will increasingly be kind of an overwatch role and a higher weighting on the counterterrorism.” Of course, some like Joe Biden do not want America to bide its time but get the heck out as soon as possible. Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs, insists things are getting better. “Al-Qaeda is on their heels, and the Taliban momentum in the south as been checked.”
OK, everyone agrees there have been changes. But, there is no unanimity as to whether these are temporary, long term or whatever changes. There is always the possibility that in 2030, our troops will be fighting in the hills of Afghanistan as the tide changes to our favor.