In a decisive about-face, the Obama administration has announced that American military forces might remain in the war-torn country for years to come. The change of heart comes just a week after Obama pledged to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, saying he would begin withdrawing them in July 2011. “There isn’t a deadline,” says Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and the U.S will not launch a “rush to the exists,” added Gen. David H. Petraeus. The change in tone is likely a response to the public condemnations that followed Obama’s address from critics who claim that a specific pull-out date could compromise the mission in Afghanistan. The White House says the date was meant to send a clear message to the Afghan government: support to the country is not open-ended. The administration now says July 2011 is when more responsibilities will start to be transferred to Afghan forces.