Headline, McClatchy Newspapers, 12/17/09:
Eikenberry Assures Afghans U.S. Will Stay Beyond 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan--U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry Thursday further signaled that a strong AMERICAN MILITARY PRESENCE WILL REMAIN in Afghanistan LONG AFTER July 2011, when President Obama plans to end his troop surge.I'll let the forlorn soldier in Tom Lea's famed WWII painting, "The Two-Thousand Yard Stare," provide the commentary today.
To the Afghan government: "Act with urgency." To the Afghan people: "We will not abandon you."
"After eight years of assistance to Afghanistan, many Americans and many members of Congress are impatient to see results," he said, while assuring that "OUR MILITARY COMMITMENT WILL NOT END OR DECLINE EVEN AS OUR COMBAT FORCES WITHDRAW"
Eikenberry suggested that the JULY 2011 DATE for beginning a U.S. troop drawdown is FLEXIBLE.
"THIS IS NOT A DEADLINE, despite what some people in the United States and Afghanistan have said," Eikenberry said. He added that American WITHDRAWAL in 18 months is "ENTIRELY BASED ON THE CONDITIONS THAT EXIST AT THAT TIME."