Petraeus: No guarantee U.S. will actually withdraw troops in July 2011 

The timetables, they are a-changin:

Gen. David Petraeus will not say whether U.S. troops will begin to pull out of Afghanistan next summer as President Obama pledged last year, saying any drawdown will be conditions based.

Speaking during an interview taped for NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Petraeus said Obama asked him for his “best military advice,” and his job is not to be political about war.

If sufficient progress has not been made by the president’s deadline to start withdrawal, “I would communicate that to him. … That’s real life,” said the general who succeeded the ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Petraeus’ comments come as U.S. support for the 9-year war is slipping and the death toll is climbing. July was the deadliest month for U.S. forces, when 66 troops were killed.

Petraeus and other military officials have warned of more combat casualties as additional U.S. troops are sent to the fight. Last fall, Obama authorized 100,000 troops in Afghanistan — triple the level from 2008.

Obama’s Democratic supporters have reluctantly swung behind the plan, but lawmakers are beginning to question whether Afghanistan can be won. Petraeus conceded the U.S. mission in the war-weary South Asian nation is tough, and will remain so.

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