In an interview on "Meet the Press," Sunday, Dec. 6, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates talked to David Gregory about President Obama's plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Clinton insisted the plan is not an "exit strategy" or "drop dead deadline":
HILLARY CLINTON: We're not talking about an exit strategy or a drop dead deadline. What we're talking about is an assessment that in January 2011, we can begin a transition. A transition to hand off -- responsibility to the Afghan forces.
ROBERT GATES: We're not talking about an abrupt withdrawal. We're talking about something that will take place over a period of time. Our commanders think that these additional forces, and one of the reasons for the President's decision to try and accelerate their deployment is-- is the view that this extended surge has the opportunity to make significant gains in terms of reversing the momentum of the Taliban, denying them control of Afghan territory, and degrading their capabilities.
Our military thinks we have a real opportunity to do that. And it's not just in the next 18 months. Because we will have a significant -- we will have 100,000 forces -- troops there. And they are not leaving-- in July of 2011. Some handful or some small number or whatever the conditions permit, we'll begin to withdraw at that time.