Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, said that the situation in Afghanistan needs “sustained and substantial” commitment.
His statements echoed the assessment made by the senior U.S. general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal.
However, Petraeus, in his comments Tuesday to a convention of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), refused to detail what a substantial commitment means and whether it would translate to sending more troops into Afghanistan.
McChrystal was criticized for airing his views on the Afghanistan war in a public forum as President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda The root of Joe Biden's troubles MORE works on a strategy to tackle growing security concerns in Afghanistan. McChrystal has asked for up to 40,000 more troops amid reports of mounting casualties in the eight-year war.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the same AUSA convention on Monday that military officers should provide their recommendations to the president in private.
Petraeus said that Obama will meet Wednesday with military leaders to continue deliberations on how to resource the Afghanistan strategy. There will be another meeting several days after that.
“This has been a very substantial endeavor,” Petraeus said. “It is moving quite rapidly.”
Petraeus stressed the need for boosting the Afghan security forces, something that senior Democrats, particularly Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (Mich.), are pressing for. Petraeus also said that a legitimate Afghan government is a “key ingredient” to any successful counterinsurgency strategy.
Petraeus has not spoken publicly about the state of operations in the Central Command area of responsibility for months. That area includes the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries in North Africa.
Petraeus, who made headlines with the implementation of the troop surge in Iraq, has been an absent voice in the public debate about the war in Afghanistan. Petraeus spent significant time in the speech talking about Iraq, noting the “vastly reduced” attacks, but expressed his view that some high-profile, violent attacks still pose concern.
Petraeus’s speech to AUSA on Tuesday came shortly after a meeting at the White House between Obama and congressional leaders from both parties to discuss the worsening situation in Afghanistan.