Petraeus: Afghanistan needs more 'sustained' effort than Iraq war

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, on Thursday cast doubt on the ability of the United States to rapidly improve the situation in Afghanistan.

“You are not going to turn Afghanistan,” Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, said at a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

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Petraeus, who has been credited with the troop surge in Iraq, told The Hill after the discussion that Afghanistan is not like Iraq “in the sense that you won’t see precipitous downturn” in the violence and insurgency that took place in Iraq and that Afghanistan will take a much more “sustained” effort.

Petraeus told the CSIS audience that he has thought for several years that “Afghanistan was going to be the longest campaign in the Long War.” The “Long War” is a term used during the Bush administration to refer to U.S. actions against terrorism, analogous to the “war on terrorism.”

Petraeus added that the strategy in Afghanistan is one “of demonstrating that progress can be achieved.”

“We have to show progress, we have to show that it can be done over time,” he said.

According to Petraeus, all the 30,000 additional troops that President Barack Obama decided to send will be on the ground in Afghanistan by the end of August.

Petraeus also described the U.S. civil-military relations as “very good,” and credited last year’s long and intense discussions over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan with creating “substantial team-building” between the military and civilian officials.


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