Dear rest of the media,

I truly do not understand why you find this concept so confusing. Even before the speech, I was able to sum it up in a few sentences.

In the most dramatic departure from the March approach, however, July 2011 will begin a new phase in the Afghanistan war: A date when the U.S. will “begin to transfer our lead responsibility” for “combat operations to our Afghan counterparts.” This is “not an open-ended commitment,” a senior official said. But the officials did not explicitly state that major U.S. troop withdrawals will occur by that time. The pace of the security transfer, as well as the date at which it is completed, will be determined by events on the ground, a senior official said. July 2011, in other words, marks “the beginning of a process which is not yet defined in terms of the length of the process or the endpoint.”

That was about four hours before the speech. You can find modified versions of that description here and here. This is not such a difficult concept to understand.

Before you get on my ass: I am not asking you to defend the strategy or to embrace it. I am asking you to describe the fucking thing clearly for your readers. You know, what we get paid to do? Don’t make me say any names.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman