I have a longer post on this coming out tomorrow but just allow me to take a moment to enjoy this minor ‘coup’ (and trust me, I know this is very bad form). From today’s NYTimes:
The Obama administration is increasingly emphasizing the idea that the United States will have forces in Afghanistan until at least the end of 2014…
And last May in this little corner of the interwebs:
…my impression was that all of the speakers (British, Canadian and U.S.) were operating under the assumption that forces would be in place well beyond 2011. I heard no discussion about how to conduct any sort of hand off to the Afghans within 18 months, alterations to COIN theory or doctrine or trains of thought about alternate ways militaries could support/conduct COIN without significant numbers of forces on the ground. I would interpret that to mean that the military has been given the word (explicitly or implicitly) that that 2011 deadline is NOT set in stone. I would, in fact, go further and predict that barring some unforeseen change in the operating environment we will almost definitely have a significant presence in Afghanistan for some time.
I think the idea of a 2011 end date died almost as soon as the words were uttered and there was plenty of evidence for that for some time now.