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Defining withdrawal…

March 13, 2012

Some shrewd comment from Nick Robinson of the BBC on this whole subject of withdrawal timetables – it will be about definitions of issues (withdrawal, transition, lead responsibility, etc) that will be kept intentionally fluid.  This might, sensibly, be because of the need to ensure a transition is at least partially “conditions-based”, ie you can’t pull out until you are quite sure things won’t fall apart.  But I don’t see many military or politicians hammering that theme too hard these days.

BBC’s Nick Robinson, 13 Mar 2012

As recently as November of last year the Ministry of Defence was clear about the timetable.  They said that ALL of Afghanistan will have BEGUN the process of transition by the END OF 2013.  Yet in February this year the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said something different which took Britain by surprise.  He said the process would be hoped be COMPLETE by MID TO LATE 2013.  That brings forward the moment that Afghan troops will take the lead combat role.  The next day the prime minister’s official spokesman moved closer to Panetta’s position, but was still saying something different – this time that Afghan troops will have COMPLETED their lead role takeover by the END of 2013. Seemingly then London was three to six months behind Washington.  However, unnoticed by me and as far as I can tell most of the media, the Foreign Secretary William Hague moved Britain’s position  to come in line with that of the US in a statement in the Commons on 9 February.

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