Archive for the ‘Petraeus’ Category

Gen. Petraeus: No Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan

March 14, 2009

The commander of the U.S. Central Command said Friday that an Iraq-style surge cannot be a solution to the problems in Afghanistan.

Gen. David Petraeus, speaking before about 800 people at an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council, acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan has been spiraling downward and is likely to get worse before it gets better.

In a speech that also touched on issues ranging from the nuclear threat in Iraq to pirates off Somalia, Petraeus said more resources are needed in Afghanistan, both military and especially civil to help build a stable government there.

By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press Writer

“The secretary of defense and I are among the biggest champions with members of Congress for increasing the resourcing for the State Department and the Agency for International Development,” he said.

The U.S.-led invasion of Aghanistan ousted the Islamist Taliban regime in 2001, but the militant movement has regained control of large swaths of the country. U.S. and NATO forces have been unable to reverse the gains.

Petraeus blamed the problems on a resilient “syndicate of extremists,” financing from the drug trade, safe havens in Pakistan and frustration with the slow development of the country’s fledgling government.

“We must help our Afghan partners create the breathing space that’ll allow the people to stand up for themselves as the Iraqi people did during the awakening movements there,” he said. “That also will allow the government to begin working for its people and begin providing essential services, instead of just struggling to survive.”

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Obama’s Vietnam

February 1, 2009

The analogy isn’t exact. But the war in Afghanistan is starting to look disturbingly familiar.

By John Barry and Evan Thomas | NEWSWEEK
About a year ago, Charlie Rose, the nighttime talk-show host, was interviewing Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the military adviser at the White House coordinating efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We have never been beaten tactically in a fire fight in Afghanistan,” Lute said. To even casual students of the Vietnam War, his statement has an eerie echo. One of the iconic exchanges of Vietnam came, some years after the war, between Col. Harry Summers, a military historian, and a counterpart in the North Vietnamese Army. As Summers recalled it, he said, “You never defeated us in the field.” To which the NVA officer replied: “That may be true. It is also irrelevant.”

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Petraeus: Afghan, Pakistan problems are really one

January 9, 2009

U.S. policy to win in Afghanistan must recognize the poor nation’s limitations and its neighborhood, especially its intertwined relationship with U.S. terrorism-fighting ally Pakistan, the top U.S. military commander in the region said Thursday.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, who became a household name overseeing the war in Iraq, now oversees the older, smaller and less promising fight in Afghanistan as well. He predicted a long war in Afghanistan, without quantifying it.

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Military Writer

U.S. General David Petraeus, the commander overseeing military ... 
U.S. General David Petraeus, the commander overseeing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, talks during a conference in Rome December 9, 2008.(Tony Gentile/Reuters)

Petraeus told a Washington audience that a winning strategy in Afghanistan will look different from the one in Iraq. He offered few specifics as the incoming Obama administration assess its options in the 7-year-old Afghanistan war that has gone much worse than anticipated, just as U.S. fortunes have improved in Iraq. He also suggested the United States and its partners may one day have common purpose with Iran, another Afghanistan neighbor, in stabilizing and remaking that country.

“There has been nothing easy about Afghanistan, indeed nearly every aspect has been hard and that will continue to be the case in 2009 and the years beyond,” Petraeus said in an address to the United States Institute of Peace.

The address was part of a conference highlighting world trouble spots at the moment of political transition in the United States. The institute released a sober outline of problems in Afghanistan as part of the session.

The report said the U.S. and its partners have shortchanged Afghanistan by focusing on short-term goals pursued without a cohesive strategy or clear understanding of how the decentralized country works. It suggested President-elect Barack Obama should refocus the U.S. war and rebuilding effort in Afghanistan and think of the project as the work of at least a decade.

Petraeus’ own review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is expected to be presented to Obama the week after he takes office Jan. 20. The plan would shift the focus from the waning fight in Iraq to the escalating Afghan battle.

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2009: Tough Fight In Iraq, Afghanistan — Petraeus

December 18, 2008

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has told his troops that despite progress on both fronts, the U.S. and its allies face a tough fight in the year ahead.

With his trademark caution, Petraeus wrote in a letter to all troops in U.S. Central Command — stretching across the Middle East and throughout Central Asia — that improved security conditions in Iraq remain fragile and that while the Afghan army is improving, “the difficulties in Afghanistan are considerable.”

It was the first time since Petraeus took charge of Central Command on Oct. 31, following 20 months as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, that he has offered troops what he called “my initial assessment of the situation” not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan and elsewhere in that region.

By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Writer

In this Dec. 10, 2008, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, commander ... 
In this Dec. 10, 2008, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, commander U.S. Central Command, arrives for a meeting at the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Manama, Bahrain. Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has told his troops that despite progress on both war fronts the U.S. and its allies face a tough fight in the year ahead.(AP Photo/Scott Olson, Pool)

The letter, dated Dec. 9, was released by his office at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

Petraeus has assembled a team of experts to conduct an in-depth and comprehensive review of his command area; it is expected to be completed by early February. His aides said that is separate from the “initial assessment” he offered in the letter to troops. The assessment was based on his own discussions and observations during extensive travels in the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere over the past few months.

“In Iraq, we are building on the progress achieved by coalition and Iraqi forces in the course of difficult operations,” he wrote. He said gains have been encouraging but are still not irreversible — a theme he and other commanders have struck many times in arguing against a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Petraeus mentioned that further troop cuts in Iraq are planned, but he was not specific. President-elect Barack Obama has said he would consult with Petraeus and other commanders and senior civilian defense officials before carrying out his campaign promise to bring the Iraq war to an end.

“Numerous difficult issues loom on the horizon in the `Land of the Two Rivers,'” he wrote, alluding to the name derived from the important role the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have played in Iraq’s history. He noted the challenges of Iraqi elections to be held in 2009, plus “resilient enemies still carrying out deadly attacks, lingering ethno-sectarian mistrust and competition” and “malign external influences.”

Under a security agreement that President George W. Bush signed in Baghdad last weekend, U.S. combat forces are to be out of Iraqi urban areas by June 30 and all U.S. troops are to withdraw by the end of 2011.

“In Afghanistan, we and our Afghan partners are in a tough fight,” Petraeus wrote.

Noting that developing the foundations of Afghan government and economy “is typically more construction than reconstruction,” Petraeus said progress has been painstaking, with much yet to be accomplished.

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