News / Asia

General Petraeus Says Training of Afghan Security Forces is Being Overhauled

David Dyar

The commander who oversees U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan says the training of Afghan security forces is being "overhauled."  General David Petraeus told U.S. lawmakers the changes are based on lessons learned in Iraq. He also spoke about a move involving U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan.

Training procedures for Afghan police and security forces are being overhauled, said General Petraeus, to avoid some of the mistakes made in Iraq.

He said US trainers in Afghanistan must learn from what was a "flawed" strategy in Iraq. "You know, we should recruit, train, and then assign police. Not recruit, assign, and try to get them back to training. Again, that was a flawed approach and we have to take the time to do that.."

Petraeus said to members of the House Armed Services Committee pay raises and bonuses have helped improve results among Afghan recruits.

But he said it's too soon to tell if Afghan troops will be ready to assume control as  U.S. forces leave.   

In another development, General Stanley McChrystal, the Commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has brought most American special operations forces under his control for the first time.

Petraeus denied media reports linking the decision to concerns that special operation forces were not doing enough to limit civilian casualties.

Petraeus said he ordered the move for other reasons.  "The reason it was done was to help General McChrystal achieve greater unity of effort among all of his forces. And again, that's why this applied to more than just Special Operations forces," he said.

Petraeus said various marine, air force, and army units already have been moved under McChrystal's command, for the same reason.  

General McChrystal has made reducing civilian deaths a top priority in a bid to win the loyalty of Afghan civilians.

In at least two incidents in February,  NATO airstrikes missed their targets, killing nearly 40 civilians in southern Afghanistan.  

Immediately after one of the strikes, General McChrystal apologized on TV to the Afghan people.

In recent months, NATO has limited air strikes and tightened rules of engagement on the battlefield.

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