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The many contradictions in President Obama's speech about Afghanistan Wednesday night were perhaps intended to obscure the bottom line: Tens of thousands of American troops will remain for at least three more years, some of them will be maimed or killed, and Obama offered no good reason why.

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Ahead of policy deliberations in Washington, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued for a modest approach to the U troop drawdown in Afghanistan that will begin next month He favors the removal of support forces in a strategy that would leave as much "combat power" in place as possible until the war's end .

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he's considering delaying this summer's planned reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq in order to look into how the drawdown would impact security, an approach also supported by Gen. David Petraeus.

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