The Obama administration reaffirmed Sunday that it will begin pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next summer, despite reservations among top generals that absolute deadlines are a mistake.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said a plan to begin bringing forces home in July 2011 still holds.
"That's not changing. Everybody agreed on that date," Emanuel said on ABC's This Week. He named the top three officials overseeing the policy girding the war: Gen. David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Petraeus, the war's top military boss, said last week that he would recommend delaying the pullout if conditions in Afghanistan warranted it. Days after the date was announced in December, Gates pointedly said it was not a deadline.
Gates pledged Sunday that some troops would begin to leave in 13 months, but he was more cautious. "We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces," he said on Fox News Sunday. � The Associated Press