Washington: US Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday it was too early to gauge progress in Afghanistan, where
international forces are set to peak at 150,000 within weeks
to battle an emboldened insurgency.
In an interview with ABC television`s "This Week," Biden
also termed President Barack Obama`s self-imposed timeline to
begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 as the "beginning of a
transition" that could see as few as 2,000 soldiers leave the
Asked whether the United States was losing the nearly
nine-year war, Biden said it was "too early to make a
"We don`t even have all the troops of the so-called surge
in place yet. That won`t happen until August," he added,
noting the military has said progress should be evident by
The US vice president`s interview aired just a day after
officials announced that five NATO soldiers, including two
Americans, were killed in Taliban-style bomb attacks, the
latest grim reminder of the war`s toll.
Casualty figures for international troops in Afghanistan
have spiked in the past two months, and June, with 102 killed,
was the deadliest ever since the war began soon after a US-led
invasion toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.
"Unfortunately, everyone knew that in these summer
months, when they can infiltrate from Pakistan under the cover
of foliage and the rest and it`s open, that there would be
more deaths," Biden said.
"And now we`re engaging them more and there are more
When questioned about the July 2011 date to begin the
drawdown of US troops, he confirmed he had told journalist
Jonathan Alter to "bet on it." Alter`s book "The Promise:
President Obama, Year One," was published earlier this year.
"The military signed on. (US commander General David)
Petraeus signed on. Everybody signed onto not a deadline, but
a transition, a beginning of a transition," Biden said.
"It could be as few as a couple thousand troops. It could
be more. But there will be a transition."
The Obama administration is desperately seeking to take
the fight to the Taliban in a bid to speed an end to the war
as public opinion continues to turn against the prolonged,
costly war effort.
Biden insisted US troops were making "considerable
progress" against al Qaeda, which he recalled is "our primary
target," and that efforts were underway to get "reconcilable"
Taliban members to switch sides.