Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said it would take his forces five years to take control of security throughout the country, and that Afghan forces would need heavy U.S. financial and technical help for 15 to 20 years. The statement came during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who emphasized that he hoped the Afghan military could be ready sooner, and stressed that the U.S. would begin troop withdrawal from the country in 2011, in accordance with President Obama's recently unveiled troop-surge plan, although the drawdown itself will take several years. For his part, Karzai is set to unveil his cabinet next week and has signaled that he intends to exclude notorious warlords from the list. Meanwhile, in Washington, top U.S. commander Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal told the Senate and House Armed Services Committees that the U.S. needed to signal a long-term commitment in Afghanistan in order to banish the Taliban-led insurgency.
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