News / Asia

Petraeus on Afghanistan: 'We are in this to win'

Sean Maroney

U.S. General David Petraeus has formally assumed command of the 140,000-member NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

The new top military leader in Afghanistan, U.S. General David Petraeus, assumes command following the deadliest month for international forces in the country since the Afghan war began nearly nine years ago.

More than 100 NATO troops died in June, as NATO and Afghan forces bore down on Taliban strongholds in the south.

But despite the grim statistics, General Petraeus told a crowd of several-hundred NATO and Afghan officials at NATO headquarters in Kabul that coalition forces must rise to the challenge.

"We are engaged in a tough fight," Petraeus said. "After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment.  We are in this to win."

On Sunday July 4, which also marks America's Independence Day, General Petraeus received two flags - one for the United States and the other for NATO - to mark his formal assumption of command in Afghanistan.

He is under tremendous pressure to help bring security to the country in the face of a growing Taliban insurgency, while at the same time, planning an exit strategy to start withdrawing U.S. forces by the middle of next year.

Petraeus also assumes command following a recent controversy surrounding his predecessor, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who resigned late last month after he and his aides made disparaging comments to a U.S. magazine about senior members of the Obama administration.

General Petraeus said the change in leadership does not signal a shift in making the protection of the Afghan people the primary focus for NATO.

But he did suggest he would review the rules of engagement that currently govern international forces in Afghanistan.

"I will, as any new commander should, together with ISAF, Afghan and diplomatic partners, examine our civil-military effort to determine where refinements might be needed," Petraeus said.

Troops have complained that McChrystal exercised too much caution to prevent civilian casualties by curbing the use of airpower and heavy weapons in some instances, which they said benefited the Taliban and endangered coalition forces.

Speaking on behalf of NATO headquarters, Allied Joint Force Command leader German General Egon Ramms welcomed Petraeus' experience and leadership.

"There was not the slightest concern about mission command in relation to the unexpected developments of the past 10 days," Ramms said.

Analysts credit General Petraeus for turning around the war effort in Iraq, as well as pioneering the U.S. military's counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.  The strategy relies mainly on a two-pronged approach: engaging the Taliban militarily in their strongholds, while relying on the Afghan government to simultaneously improve local governance and development.

Regional experts say that high levels of corruption in Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, coupled with the booming drug trade, are hurting efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs