Members of congress are growing increasingly frustrated with the war's $10 billion a month price tag. For many it is a cost the country is in incapable of affording in the midst of a budget crisis.
Gates said that the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be $40 billion lower in 2012 than in 2011.
He also said, "I think you also have to ask the question what's the cost of failure. We've invested a huge amount of money here. We've invested 1,254 lives up to this point."
"Congress is almost always impatient. I remember in the spring of 2007, people saying this war is lost in Iraq," said Gates adding, "I can say that since I'm leaving in a few weeks."
Building the Afghan Army
In order to engineer a drawdown the U.S. must first help build up Afghanistan's security, concentrating the most on the Afghan National Army. The force of 164,000 has a literacy rate of only 14 percent, despite the low literacy Petraeus said the army is making significant progress.
By the end of the year the U.S. hopes to have an Afghan security force made up of the army, the police and the air force, totaling 305,000.