Added Clinton: "I do not believe we have locked ourselves into leaving. But what we have done ... is to signal very clearly to all audiences that the United States is not interested in occupying Afghanistan."
As part of a full-court press by the White House to make the case for Obama's new strategy, Gates, Clinton and Mullen argued for the troop increase. But they also were careful with their words so as not to aggravate divisions on the issue.
Clinton and Gates cast the war as serious but not hopeless. Mullen said the Taliban had regained ground in Afghanistan - gaining "dominant influence" in 11 of 34 provinces - but could be defeated with enough resources and time.