U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Afghanistan this week prompted contradictory reports about both the war's progress and the likelihood for an accelerated troop withdrawal.
Some observers said President Barack Obama's security team was now considering the option of a swift pullout. Others quoted Gates as saying it's too early to end combat. Meanwhile, a U.S. general touted success in training Afghan forces just as Congress released a report criticizing the Afghan nation-building program.
Joshua Foust, a fellow and Afghanistan specialist with the American Security Project, tells Trend Lines that the conflicting reports are best explained by a widening rift between the U.S. military and Washington lawmakers over when and how to end the war. "There's definitely a debate over the proportionality of the withdrawal," he says. "Right now, in a lot of ways, it's getting exaggerated and misstated as people try to push their own agendas."