US Defence Secretary Robert Gates (pictured) says he would be open to a request for more troops and resources to aid the international force in Afghanistan, adding that the United States has "limited time" to prove its new strategy is working.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday he would be open to any new request by the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan for more troops and resources, saying his concerns about sending too large a force can be mitigated.
Gates added that the United States has "limited time" to show that President Barack Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan is succeeding.
"There is a limited time for us to show that this is working," Gates said at a press conference alongside Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A long-awaited assessment of war by US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the Western commander, has intensified debate within the administration over sending additional troops into the fight against a resurgent Taliban.
"I'm very open to the recommendations and certainly the perspective of Gen. McChrystal," Gates told a news conference, when asked about an expected request by the commander for more troops.
A former CIA chief who helped mujahideen rebels drive the Soviets from Afghanistan, Gates has previously expressed concern that if the US and NATO presence becomes too large, Afghans will see it as an occupying force.
But Gates said those concerns can be "mitigated" if the additional US forces "interact with the Afghans in a way that gives confidence to the Afghans that we're partners and their allies."
Mullen told reporters that the Pentagon understood there was a "sense of urgency" in Afghanistan, conceding that "time is not on our side" in the country.
Date created : 2009-09-04