Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has strongly criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan in his new book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War.
In the book, Robert Gates says that the president was skeptical that his administration’s Afghan strategy would succeed.
“I never doubted [his] support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Robert Gates writes.
Robert Gates was Pentagon chief under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
He was the first Pentagon head to serve presidents of different parties before leaving political office in 2011.
Although Robert Gates describes Barack Obama as “a man of personal integrity” who was right in his decisions regarding Afghanistan, he says that the president was uncomfortable with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he inherited from the Bush administration.
Robert Gates also says Barack Obama was distrustful of the military that was providing him options.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has strongly criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan in his new book
He writes in the memoir that in March 2011 Barack Obama did not trust General David Petraeus – the US military commander in Afghanistan in 2010-11 – and “could not stand” Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Barack Obama “doesn’t consider the war to be his”, Robert Gates writes of a March 2011 meeting in the White House.
“For him, it’s all about getting out.”
According to The Washington Post, the memoir is “in contrast to his subdued, even-keeled public demeanor as Pentagon chief”, and Robert Gates “strikes an often bitter tone in his memoir”.
In the book, Robert Gates voices frustration at the “controlling nature” of Barack Obama’s White House, which he says constantly interfered in Pentagon affairs, even though civilian aides lacked knowledge of military operations.
The White House national security staff “took micromanagement and operational meddling to a new level,” Robert Gates writes, comparing their approach to that of the Nixon era of the 1970s.
“All too early in the administration,” Robert Gates writes, “suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials – including the president and vice president – became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander-in-chief and his military leaders.”
However, Robert Gates does give credit to the president for approving the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan – which he himself initially opposed – describing it as “one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House.”
Robert Gates is also effusive in his praise of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The US has signed a deal to use a Romanian air base as a transit point for American forces leaving Afghanistan, officials have said.
The agreement was reached at bilateral talks at the Pentagon.
The move will allow the US to switch its flight operations to Romania from Kyrgyzstan’s Manas air base, when the US lease there expires in July 2014.
Washington plans to withdraw most of its 52,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
The US wants to keep a smaller force in the country after the deadline, but is still negotiating key details with the government in Kabul.
The US has signed a deal to use a Romanian air base as a transit point for American forces leaving Afghanistan
The deal about the use of Romania’s Mihail Kogalniceanu air base was agreed during the talks between US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Chuck Hagel “praised this agreement, which is particularly important as the US prepares to wind down transit centre operations at Manas”.
“Secretary Hagel highlighted this agreement as a further testament to Romania’s steadfast commitment to the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission and its commitment to regional and international security.”
However, the details of the deal were not released. The base is near the Black Sea town of Constanta.
In June, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted to end the US lease on Manas in July 2014.
The US pays $60 million each year to lease the base, which has been in operation since 2001.
Russia also has an air base in Kyrgyzstan, for which it agreed a 15-year extension last year.
General James Amos, head of the US Marine Corps has ordered two generals to retire because they failed to defend Camp Bastion in Afghanistan from a Taliban attack.
He said Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant “did not take adequate force protection measures” to stop the 2012 assault.
Two Marines died and eight other personnel were wounded.
The Taliban also destroyed six Marine Harrier fighter jets and badly damaged several others.
Fourteen of the 15 attackers were killed and one was captured. US Marines and UK Royal Air Force gunners were involved in the counter-attack.
Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant did not take adequate force protection measures to stop a Taliban assault in 2012
In June, Gen Amos asked US Central Command to carry out an investigation and said he decided to take action against the two generals after reviewing the results of that inquiry.
Endorsing the inquiry’s findings, Gen. James Amos wrote: “While I am mindful of the degree of difficulty the Marines in Afghanistan faced in accomplishing a demanding combat mission with a rapidly declining force, my duty requires me to remain true to the timeless axioms relating to command responsibility and accountability.”
He added that Gen. Charles Gurganus bore “final accountability” for the lives and equipment under his command, and had made “an error in judgment” in underestimating the risk posed by the Taliban in the Bastion area of Helmand province.
Gen. James Amos said that Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant – who was in charge of Marine aviation in the region – “did not adequately assess the force protection situation”.
He asked both men to retire on Monday, speaking personally to Gen. Charles Gurganus at the Pentagon and by video conference to Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, a Marine Corps official told Reuters news agency.
Both men agreed to the request, the official added.
Gen. James Amos also recommended to the Navy secretary that Gen. Charles Gurganus’ nomination for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General be rescinded and that Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant receive a letter of censure.
Correspondents say it is a rare public reprimand of senior US military officers.
Following the announcement, Gen. Charles Gurganus issued a brief statement saying he felt privileged to have served in the Marine Corps for 37 years.
“I will treasure that forever. I have complete trust and confidence in the leadership of our Corps and fully respect the decision of our commandant,” he said.
Bastion is one of the biggest camps in Afghanistan with a perimeter of 22 miles.
President Barack Obama has pledged to “finish the job” and end the Afghan war, addressing the US public live from a military base in Afghanistan.
Speaking a year after Osama Bin Laden’s death, Barack Obama thanked US troops and hailed plans to end combat operations.
He arrived in Afghanistan on a publicly unannounced visit to sign an agreement on future Afghan-US ties with President Hamid Karzai, ahead of a NATO summit.
Hours after his speech, at least seven people died in an attack in Kabul.
Afghan officials said at least two suicide bombers targeted a guesthouse popular with foreigners in the eastern part of the capital.
They said at least four of the victims were civilians – children from a nearby school. Seventeen people were wounded.
The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attacks.
President Barack Obama has pledged to "finish the job" and end the Afghan war
A spokesman for the NATO lead force praised the Afghan security forces for “taking the lead in putting down another desperate attack by insurgents”.
Earlier, Barack Obama said signing the pact with President Hamid Karzai was “a historic moment” for both nations.
His visit and TV address come as correspondents say public patience with the war in Afghanistan is wearing thin.
In the speech, beamed back to prime-time evening audiences in US, the president said that at the upcoming NATO summit, to be held in Chicago, the alliance would “set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year”.
NATO has already committed to withdrawing from combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“I will not keep Americans in harm’s way a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security,” Barack Obama said.
“But we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly.”
Barack Obama’s words appear to be aimed at showing American voters he is pursuing a strategy to wind down the war, while reassuring Afghans in the face of a continuing Taliban insurgency.
About 23,000 of the 88,000 US troops currently in the country are expected to leave Afghanistan by the summer, with all US and NATO troops out by the end of 2014.
“It is time to renew America,” Barack Obama said towards the end of his remarks.
“My fellow Americans, we have travelled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,” he said.
“The Iraq war is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfil our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaeda.”
During the speech, Barack Obama outlined the agreement he had just signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Twenty months of negotiation finally produced an agreement after differences over night raids by special forces and the handling of prisoners were ironed out.
According to the US president, the document outlines plans for training Afghan forces and supporting counter terrorism efforts, as well as “Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability”.
Barack Obama also spoke of a “negotiated peace” with the Taliban, saying that if insurgents break with al-Qaeda, and follow the “path to peace”, there can be reconciliation.
He said that ahead of the Chicago meeting of NATO, he had made it clear to Pakistan that it could be an “equal partner in the process”.
Pakistan and US relations soured after Barack Obama launched the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden inside the country’s border.
“In pursuit of a durable peace, America has no designs beyond an end to al-Qaeda safe-havens, and respect for Afghan sovereignty.”
Barack Obama also rejected calls to leave Afghanistan before the 2014 NATO timeline, saying “we must finish the job we started in Afghanistan, and end this war responsibly”.
In the wake of the agreement, the US is to designate Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally, US officials are quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.