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Gen. David Petraeus: ‘The troops can’t quit’

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Paula Broadwell with Vernon Loeb
Washington Post
January 23, 2012

“It’s ‘open the envelope time,’ ” Gen. David Petraeus told his security team as his SUV approached the White House on June 21, 2011, for his final meeting with President Obama on the drawdown of forces from Afghanistan.

Petraeus had returned to Washington from his command in Kabul for consultations with Obama on the drawdown, and for a Senate committee hearing on his nomination to become the next director of the CIA. On the way from the Pentagon, retired Army general Jack Keane, a mentor and former vice chief of staff of the Army, e-mailed Petraeus with rumors of what he was hearing: The White House was going to recommend 10,000 troops depart by the end of 2011, with the remaining 23,000 surge forces out by the summer of 2012, a far more drastic timetable for withdrawal than Petraeus had recommended.

Keane was protective of his prodigy. Obama’s decision “not only protracts the war but risks the mission,” Keane said in the e-mail, then asked: “should you consider resigning?”

“I don’t think quitting would serve our country,” Petraeus responded. “More likely to create a crisis. And, I told POTUS I’d support his ultimate decision. Besides, the troops can’t quit. . . .”

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This article was posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 10:49 am





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