Daily brief: Gates may retire next year
A very long goodbye In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that he may step down sometime next year (FP, Guardian, CBS, AP). Gates noted in the interview that a 2011 retirement would give him the chance to oversee the December 2010 Afghan strategy review and the ...
A very long goodbye
A very long goodbye
In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that he may step down sometime next year (FP, Guardian, CBS, AP). Gates noted in the interview that a 2011 retirement would give him the chance to oversee the December 2010 Afghan strategy review and the completion of the additional troop deployments ordered by President Barack Obama while avoiding the need for Obama to look for a replacement in an election year (FT, Reuters). Gates also said there was "no question" that a drawdown of U.S. troops would begin in 2011, which appears to run counter to suggestions that ISAF commander Gen. David Petraeus might seek a delay in the scheduled withdrawal (Tel, AP, USA Today).
This is not the first time Gates has spoken of retiring, as he attempted to retire at the end of his service to President George W. Bush, but was asked by Obama to stay on (Wash Post). Possible successors to Gates are said to include current undersecretary of defense for policy Michèle Flournoy, President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies John Hamre, former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, and CIA director Leon Panetta (AFP). Walter Pincus looks at the major projects Gates intends to pursue before his retirement (Wash Post).
And Yale University announced yesterday that former ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be joining the university’s new international affairs institute in the fall as a Senior Fellow, where he will teach a graduate class on leadership (AFP, BBC, ABC).
Non-governmental and U.S. government officials expressed concern about Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s purported plan to ban all private security companies from Afghanistan in four months (LAT, WSJ). The U.S. government alone employs 26,000 private security contractors, and the current Afghan security forces would be hard-pressed to provide security for those who need it in the absence of private forces (NYT, Guardian). Other officials cast doubt on the veracity of Karzai’s pledge, characterizing it as a reaction to U.S.-led anti-corruption efforts (Wash Post).
NATO and the U.N. are reportedly considering an offer made on a Taliban website to participate in a joint commission to investigate and assign blame for civilian casualties in Afghanistan (Guardian). Insurgents killed an Afghan official and a policeman yesterday in the western Farah province (AP). NATO forces in southern Afghanistan seized 17 tons of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer commonly used in improvised explosive devices and banned in Afghanistan (Tel). The fertilizer shipment reportedly originated in Quetta, Pakistan. And two former Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) employees will be arraigned today on charges of killing two Afghan men during a traffic stop in Kabul in 2009 (CNN).
For the first time since the founding of Pakistan, the country’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has assessed that domestic militancy poses a greater threat to the country than India (WSJ). However, the annual assessment may not reflect uniform views within the military, the ISI, or even average Pakistanis about the threat from India; indeed, in a recent Pew poll of Pakistani public opinion, 53 percent said India posed the greatest threat to the country, as opposed to 23 percent for the Taliban and 3 percent for al Qaeda (NAF).
Pakistani and international officials fear that continued flooding will have a lasting impact on the country, including a possible wave of disease, severe damage to Pakistan’s economic base, disruption of its food supply, and potentially millions of potentially ill orphans (NYT, ET, ABC, AP). Flood waters are also washing explosives from militant areas downstream, where they can cause further injury (Dawn). The World Bank yesterday formally approved a $900 million loan for Pakistan’s recovery and relief efforts as aid trickled in from more countries, including $1 million from Afghanistan (Dawn, NYT, BBC, Dawn, ET, Dawn).
Still, the U.N. warned that only a fraction of Pakistan’s aid needs have been met, as Pakistan’s High Commission in London announced that the cost of rebuilding Pakistan could be as high as $15 billion (AP, Reuters). U.N. officials fear that actual donations to Pakistan have been relatively low compared to other disasters due to donor fatigue and Pakistan’s lingering poor image for some in the West (Reuters, AFP). And the Pakistani government’s response to the flooding continues to spur protests (Wash Post, LAT).
Five more people have been killed in Karachi’s ongoing violence, including a "senior police officer" and his driver, as well as the son of a prominent religious scholar (ET, Dawn, Dawn).
Have it your way
In his interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Gen. Petraeus suggested that he might reverse a rule put in place by Gen. McChrystal banning fast food outlets at Kandahar Military Air Base (Guardian). The decision, if made, would mark a rare change from the Gen. McChrystal’s policies, which Gen. Petraeus has for the most part maintained.
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