Afghan campaign will be tough even with additional forces, Petraeus says

| February 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

Carmen Gleason
Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — With U.S. forces entering the second week of a 12-18 month campaign in Afghanistan, the general in charge of U.S. forces in the region acknowledged, Sunday, that the way ahead will be tough.

“I have repeatedly said that these types of efforts are hard, and they’re hard all the time,” Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

U.S. Army Soldiers engage enemy forces during Operation Moshtarak in Badula Qulp, Afghanistan, Feb. 19. The International Security Assistance Force operation is an offensive mission being conducted in areas of Afghanistan prevalent in drug-trafficking and Taliban insurgency. (Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez | U.S. Air Force)Likening operations in Afghanistan to the surge in Iraq, the general pointed out that when U.S. forces go on the offensive to take away Taliban safe havens, they will see definite resistance.

Petraeus said 2009 has been spent putting things in place for a “comprehensive civil military campaign,” putting in the best leaders, helping develop concepts, giving counterinsurgency guidance, and starting to filter an additional 30,000 forces into the country.

“So the inputs we think now are about right, and now we’re starting to see the first of the output … the initial operation in that overall campaign,” he said.

Early results have included taking down high-value targets, such as Taliban shadow governors, Petraeus said.
“We are there for a very, very important reason, and we can’t forget that,” Petraeus emphasized.

“We are in Afghanistan to ensure that it cannot, once again, be a sanctuary for the kind of attacks that were carried out on 9/11, which were planned initially in Kandahar, first training done in eastern Afghanistan, before the attackers moved to Hamburg and then on to U.S. flight schools,” he said.

When asked if al-Qaida still poses a threat to the United States, Petraeus pointed out that the terrorist organization is a “flexible, adaptable” enemy.

The enemy threat, although diminished within the 20 countries making up the Central Command area, is one that requires constant vigilance.

“It is a network, and it takes a network to keep the pressure on a network, and that is, indeed, what we are endeavoring to do,” Petraeus said.

Although he wouldn’t get into the details on the intelligence operations surrounding the recent capture of Afghanistan’s No. 2 Taliban commander, Abdul Baradar, Petraeus said Pakistan leaders have done “very impressive” work over the past several months leading up to this event.

“They saw this as the most pressing existential threat to their country, and they supported the Pakistan army and frontier corps as they went into the … province and then expanded this operation into the federally administered tribal areas,” Petraeus said. “They know they can’t just clear and leave. They have to clear, hold, build and, over time, transition to the local security forces. That’s indeed, what they are endeavoring to do. They are carrying out this fight,” he added.




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