President Barack Obama says he wants a tight timeframe for the escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and their eventual drawdown.
Answering criticism that setting a deadline only gives the enemy a reason to wait, Obama says not having one sends the wrong message to the Afghan government.
Obama laid out an 18-month escalation plan Tuesday, and said he rejects something more open-ended.
In a national address at the U.S. Military Academy, Obama said a longer horizon would commit the United States to a nation-building project that is too lengthy and unaffordable.
And he said the shorter horizon tells the Afghans that they must begin to shoulder the fight.