Petraeus: ‘We are in a contest of wills’

Gen. David Petraeus, who officially took command of U.S. and NATO
forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, told troops that all assets will be
employed to ensure their safety in tough war fighting situations.

however, stressed in a letter sent to troops soon after he assumed
command that the international security assistance force must continue
the emphasis on reducing civilian casualties to “an absolute minimum.”

{mosads}“We must never forget that the decisive terrain in Afghanistan is
the human terrain,” Petraeus wrote. “Protecting those we are here to
help nonetheless does require killing, capturing or turning the
insurgents. We will not shrink from that; indeed you have been taking
the fight to the enemy and we will continue to do so. Beyond that, as
you and your Afghan partners on the ground get into tough situations,
we must employ all assets to ensure your safety, keeping in mind, again
the importance of avoiding civilian casualties.”

During his recent Senate confirmation hearing, Petraeus pledged
that he would review the military’s rules of engagement in Afghanistan.
He called the protection of U.S. troops his “moral imperative.”

a counterinsurgency campaign, such as the one under way in Afghanistan,
there is an inherent tension between fighting a war and protecting and
winning over the civilian population.

The previous commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal,
placed restrictions on U.S. air strikes and artillery in Afghanistan,
limiting the circumstances that allow troops under fire to call for
fire support. Those rules of engagement have cut down on civilian
casualties, but have been strongly criticized by American troops who
say those rules have made the fight more dangerous.

McChrystal resigned in the aftermath of controversial comments made
in a Rolling Stone magazine article. President Barack Obama swiftly
picked Petraeus, the former head of Central Command and McChrystal’s
boss, to take the reins in Afghanistan.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a senior member of the Senate Armed
Services Committee, on Sunday said that the U.S. military’s rules of
engagement have hurt troop morale in Afghanistan and said that he hoped
that Petraeus will clarify them as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Petraeus, during his command ceremony in Kabul and in his
letter to the troops, cautioned that the U.S. and international forces
are serving in Afghanistan “at a critical time.” 

“We are in
this to win. That is our clear objective,” Petraeus said during his
assumption of command speech before military officers, diplomats and
Afghan officials at the NATO headquarters in Kabul.

“We are engaged in a contest of wills. Our enemies are doing all
that they can to undermine the confidence of the Afghan people,” he

Tags Barack Obama

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video