As outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey made media rounds on Sunday, they brought a joint message: the U.S. is not leaving Afghanistan in 2014.
Speaking to CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Dempsey dismissed the idea of a total withdrawal, saying, "no one has suggested zero [troops] to me."
Just how many, though, he did not mention, saying "the ultimate number will be based on the mission and how deeply we want to be involved with their continued development."
On NBC's Meet the Press, Panetta also dismissed a White House option of zero troops past 2014, saying he felt the President would remain committed to agreements made in Chicago, referring to the summit that outlined plans for a "NATO-Afghanistan partnership" that would continue past 2014 and provide "an enduring presence" there.
Dempsey evaded a question from host Chuck Todd on whether we can expect to see "thousands of troops" in Afghanistan post-2014, but said we should expect to see "a long-term partnership/relationship."
Panetta also told Todd that there was no intelligence that said Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.
* * *