Archive for the ‘Petraeus’ Category

Top US general takes tour to Afghanistan

November 4, 2008

The new commander of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Kabul Tuesday to assess efforts against insurgents, the US military said.

AFP

New commander of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, ... 
New commander of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, General David Petraeus (R) is pictured on November 3, 2008. The new commander of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Kabul Tuesday to assess efforts against insurgents, the US military said.(AFP/File/Aamir Qureshi)

He would be meeting various leaders in Afghanistan, US Forces Afghanistan spokesman Colonel Greg Julian told AFP, refusing to give details.

“It is traditional for a new commander to go out and meet with subordinate commanders and meet with the leaders of the various countries in the area of his responsibility and get his own assessment of the situation,” he said.

Petraeus would be in Afghanistan for several days, Julian said.

Many hope Petraeus will bring his counter-insurgency expertise to bear in Afghanistan, which has seen a spike in violence from a resurgent Taliban in the last two years, despite the presence of 70,000 NATO and US troops.

The Taliban government was removed in a US-led invasion for not surrendering Al-Qaeda leaders after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Afghanistan and its international partners have been calling for the US-led “war on terror” to put more focus on tribal areas of Pakistan where Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other militants have bases.

In Islamabad Monday, defence officials said they had warned Petraeus that US missile strikes inside Pakistan territory could spark a violent backlash and severely hamper efforts to curb extremism.

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Pakistan says next US leader must stop attacks

November 4, 2008

The next U.S. president must halt missile strikes on insurgent targets in northwest Pakistan or risk failure in its efforts to end militancy in the Muslim country, the prime minister warned Tuesday.

Yousuf Raza Gilani said visiting U.S. Gen. David Petraeus “looked convinced” when he warned him the strikes were inflaming anti-American sentiment but that he got no guarantee the attacks would end.

Gilani‘s remarks in an interview with The Associated Press underscore how shaping a policy to deal with the militant threat in nuclear-armed Pakistan and its new civilian leaders will be a key task for the next U.S. president.

They also revealed the rising strain the missile strikes have placed on relations between the two nations seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks forced them into an uneasy alliance.

By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer

In this picture released by Press Information Department, Pakistan's ... 
In this picture released by Press Information Department, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, right, meets U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, center, and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, left, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday, Nov.3, 2008. Pakistan on Monday urged the general taking charge of America’s two wars to halt missile attacks on militants in its border badlands and avert a backlash against the U.S. in a country vital to its fight against terrorism.(AP Photo/Press Information Department, HO)

“No matter who the president of America will be, if he doesn’t respect the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan … anti-America sentiments and anti-West sentiment will be there,” said Gilani in his heavily guarded residence atop a hill in the capital, Islamabad.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama has said if he is elected, he could launch unilateral attacks on high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan as they become exposed and “if Pakistan cannot or will not act” against them. Republican rival John McCain says engaging Pakistanis is vital to defeating extremists and that cross-border strikes shouldn’t be discussed “out loud.”

As Gilani spoke, several thousand Pakistanis demonstrated against the strikes in a town in the border region and the southern city of Karachi, burning U.S. flags, witnesses said.

Over the last two months, the U.S. has launched at least 17 strikes on militant targets on Pakistan’s lawless side of the Afghan border.

The region is home to scores of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters believed involved in attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, where violence is at its highest levels since the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

The missile strikes are widely seen as sign of increasing frustration in Washington at Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to tackle the threat emanating from the region, which is believed to be a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The strikes — and a highly unusual ground attack by U.S. forces in September — have killed at least 168 people, including some top extremists but also many civilians, according to Pakistani officials.

The prime minister said the attacks, which have occurred in semiautonomous tribal regions, were “uniting the militants with the tribes. How can you fight a war without the support of the people?” he said.

He said the U.S. should cooperate with his country’s military, sharing intelligence, to allow Pakistan to go after the targets itself.

“Either they should trust us and they should work with us, otherwise, I think it’s a futile exercise,” he said.

He also said the missile strikes served as a distraction to Pakistan’s own military operations against insurgents in its border regions. The army is currently in the midst of two major anti-insurgent operations in the northwest.

“Their strategy is not coinciding with our strategy,” Gilani said. “Our strategy is to take one area at one time.”

On Monday, Gillani and other Pakistan leaders held talks with Petraeus, who is making his first tour of the region since taking over U.S. Central Command last week, a post that puts him in charge of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has met with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, among other senior leaders.

Petraeus says he’ll consider Pakistan criticisms

November 4, 2008

Washington’s new top war general said he would consider rising Pakistani criticism of U.S. missile strikes on suspected militant targets in the Muslim nation’s unstable border regions.

Pakistani military and government leaders told Gen. David Petraeus that such cross-border strikes fanned anti-American sentiment in an allied country considered vital to success in the war on terror. Petraeus was likely to hear more of the same in meetings set for Tuesday.

From  STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer Stephen Graham, Associated Press Writer

In an interview with CNN, Petraeus confirmed the Pakistani criticisms in Monday’s sessions.

U. S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, left, meets Pakistani ...
U. S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus, left, meets Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Nov 3, 2008. Pakistani officials warned Gen. Petraeus on Monday that frequent missile strikes on militant targets in Pakistan fan anti-American sentiment in an Islamic country vital to the struggle against terrorism. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

“In fact, we got certain messages with each of those we talked to today and some of those were very clear and we have to take those on board,” CNN quoted Petraeus as saying. “The tone of the conversation was very frank and very forthright, as it should be,” he added later.

Petraeus was in Pakistan as part of his first international trip since taking over U.S. Central Command last week. He has met with President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani among other senior leaders so far.

The U.S. is concerned about Islamic militants using pockets of Pakistan’s northwest region as sanctuaries from which to support the escalating insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan.

Complaints from U.S. commanders about Pakistan’s efforts to counter the insurgents have been accompanied by a surge of missile strikes on suspected Taliban and al-Qaida targets, despite strong condemnation in Pakistan.

According to the state-run APP news agency, Zardari told Petraeus and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher that the attacks from drone aircraft should be stopped.

“Continuing drone attacks on our territory, which result in loss of precious lives and property, are counterproductive and difficult to explain by a democratically elected government,” Zardari was quoted as saying.

Zardari said the government was “under pressure to react more aggressively” to the strikes.

Washington is suspected in at least 17 missile strikes in Pakistan since August.

In September, a U.S. ground assault in a tribal region in Pakistan’s northwest spurred particular outrage. Days later, Pakistani troops challenged two American helicopters operating near the border and U.S. and Pakistani ground forces in the area exchanged fire.

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Pakistan tells Petraeus to stop missile strikes

November 3, 2008

The U.S. commander running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, held talks on Monday with Pakistani leaders who told him to stop U.S. strikes on militants in Pakistani territory.

Petraeus arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, at the beginning of his first foreign tour since taking charge of U.S. Central Command, highlighting U.S. concern about a country seen as crucial to stability in Afghanistan and to defeating al Qaeda.

U.S. analysts say Pakistan is facing a major threat from Islamist militants at a time when the nuclear-armed nation and its new civilian government are engulfed in extraordinarily difficult economic problems.

Petraeus has been hailed as an outstanding military leader for helping pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war with a strategy that brought a “surge” of 30,000 extra U.S. troops.

Both U.S. presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have said they would put more focus on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan and eradicating al Qaeda from Pakistan’s borderlands.

Both candidates have said they would boost U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan from the 33,000 there now.

By Augustine Anthony, Reuters

Petraeus was being accompanied in Pakistan by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Richard Boucher.

Their visit comes as relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained by a series of cross-border U.S. strikes, most by missile-firing pilotless drone aircraft, on militant targets in Pakistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari told Petraeus the attacks should stop, Pakistan’s state news agency reported.

“Continuing drone attacks on our territory, which result in loss of precious lives and property, are counter-productive and difficult to explain by a democratically elected government,” Zardari was quoted as saying.

“It is creating a credibility gap,” he said.

“MORE ACTION”

The most pressing problems for Petraeus include rising violence in Afghanistan and Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal lands.

The United States and NATO are losing ground against an escalating Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, despite the presence of 64,000 Western troops, while al Qaeda has regained strength in Pakistan’s tribal region.

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Petraeus visits shaky anti-terror ally Pakistan

November 3, 2008

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — Gen. David Petraeus, newly tasked with responsibility for America’s two wars, has arrived in Pakistan as part of his first international trip as head of the U.S. Central Command.
Petraeus’ trip signals Pakistan’s crucial role in the fight against terrorism, particularly the escalating war in neighboring Afghanistan.

But it also comes amid tensions over suspected American missile strikes in Pakistan — a U.S. ally threatened with financial ruin, torn by an Islamic insurgency and armed with nuclear weapons.

Gen. David Petraeus, left, succeeds Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey on Friday. Defense chief Robert Gates is center. 
Above: Gen. David Petraeus, left, succeeds Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey on Friday. Defense chief Robert Gates is center.

Petraeus, who took the new position on Friday after 20 months as the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, was accompanied by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, the U.S. Embassy confirmed late Sunday.

Acting embassy spokesman Wes Robertson declined to provide specifics of the schedule for the two Americans but said they would meet with government and military officials.

In Pakistan’s northwest border region, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle at a checkpoint on Sunday, killing eight troops just hours before Petraeus’ arrival.

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Petraeus seeking broad support for U.S. strategy

October 16, 2008

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even before he takes command of U.S. military strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Gen. David Petraeus is reaching beyond the military sphere to encourage international support for stabilizing the region.
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting ... 
U.S. General David Petraeus addresses journalists after a meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in London September 29, 2008.(Andrew Winning/Reuters)

Petraeus, whose innovative thinking is credited with helping save Iraq from civil war, met International Monetary Fund and World Bank representatives last week in preparation for new efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

The move, unusual for a military commander, underscores the Pentagon’s emphasis on unifying military, economic, political and diplomatic aid to help the two countries cope with militant violence and economic dislocation, officials said.

On October 31, the Army general will become head of Central Command, responsible for American military interests in 20 countries across the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

“The purpose (of the World Bank and IMF meetings) was to touch base and note the Central Command’s interest in supporting comprehensive approaches in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and others,” said a military official close to Petraeus.

His arrival at Centcom is widely expected to reinvigorate U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO efforts face grave challenges from an increasingly confident Taliban.

The United States has 32,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 19,000 under Centcom command and 13,000 under NATO.

Petraeus will launch a 100-day assessment of U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and other countries in the Centcom region once he takes over, officials said.

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What the Petraeus Promotion Means

April 23, 2008

By Mark Thompson
Time Magazine
April 23, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s announcement Wednesday promoting General David Petraeus from his current post running the war in Iraq to head up U.S. Central Command triggered both political and military unease. That response may be inevitable, coming on the downside of an unpopular war and in the waning months of the tenure of the unpopular President who launched it.
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While Republicans hailed the news that Petraeus – who implemented the “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Iraq, which is seen has having tamped down violence – was moving up the chain of command, Democrats were cooler. Opponents of the war fear that if the Democrat-led Senate approves Petraeus’s promotion, it could be taken as a signal to “stay the course” in a war that has dragged on for more than five years and has killed more than 4,000 U.S. troops. Party activists will be paying close attention to how Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vote on Petraeus’s new assignment, which the White House hopes will happen by the end of May. (Presumptive G.O.P. nominee John McCain hailed Petraeus’ nomination, calling him “one of the great generals in American history.”)

U.S. military commander in Iraq General David Petraeus salutes ...  

Democrats are unlikely to mount a campaign to block Petraeus’ promotion. Yet Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the next CENTCOM commander must come with new plans for Iraq “if directed to by a new President.” Petraeus hedged last month when asked what he would say if a new President were to order a withdrawal plan within 60 days of taking office. He verbally juggled risks and objectives before conceding, “We take orders and we follow them.”

The impact of promoting Petraeus, however, may be even greater in the national security establishment than on Capitol Hill. It’s a wake-up call to old-school Army officers and their vanishing dreams of massive tank battles and artillery skirmishes, some of whom privately call Petraeus “King David” for his high self-regard and chumminess with reporters. Gates has made clear that wants commanders able to carry out the messy, irregular kind of combat championed by Petraeus that the Defense Secretary envisages the U.S. fighting for years to come. The promotion reinforces the message he delivered to young Air Force and Army officers on Monday, when he criticized their leaders for devoting too much time and effort to future potential wars, and not enough to the real wars now under way.

“The kinds of conflicts that we’re doing, not just in Iraq but in Afghanistan, and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region and in the Central Command area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare,” Gates said. “And I don’t know anybody in the United States military better qualified [than Petraeus] to lead that effort.” Gates said he had discussed Petraeus’s promotion with Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the armed services committee, and said he didn’t “anticipate any problems” in winning Senate approval. Petraeus, in a brief statement from Baghdad, said he is “honored to be nominated for this position.”

U.S. Central Command is the core of the U.S. military’s current operations – it includes both Afghanistan and Iraq – stretching from the Horn of Africa to Pakistan. Although its headquarters are at an Air Force base in Tampa, Fla., recent commanders have spent much of their time at their forward headquarters in Qatar. Petraeus will assume command late this summer or early fall, replacing Admiral William Fallon, who requested early retirement last month after he was portrayed in a magazine interview as the lone officer preventing a U.S. war with Iran. Petraeus’s former deputy in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, will return to Baghdad in the Petraeus slot, giving up his new assignment as the Army’s No. 2 officer after only two months back in the U.S. “There is no question that there are a handful of generals, like a lot of captains and enlisted soldiers and the NCOs,” Gates said, “who have had repeated tours in Iraq.”

Petraeus, Crocker to face scrutiny on war

April 7, 2008

By S.A. Miller and Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
April 7, 2008

Capitol Hill Democrats say they will question Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker this week about how the 5-year-old Iraq war has sapped U.S. military readiness, imperiled positive results from the Afghanistan conflict and alienated the United States from the rest of the world. 

US General David Petraeus, commander of the US-led coalition ...

They also will push for a rapid pullout while posing questions about what they see as the ever-present threat of renewed fighting in Iraq, the lack of political reform by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the oil-rich country’s failure to pay for the war or reconstruction.

“We are right back to where we started before the surge,” said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which hears testimony tomorrow from Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker.

They also testify tomorrow before the Senate Armed Services Committee and then Wednesday before House committees, fulfilling a mandate by the Democrat-led Congress for a follow-up to the war report they delivered in September.

Gen. Petraeus is expected to call for halting troop reductions that began in December for about six months to assess the security situation. That would keep about 140,000 troops in Iraq — 10,000 more than before the surge of troops last year that helped stifle insurgent and sectarian attacks.

Both Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker are expected to highlight political and military gains, as well as persistent challenges to the mission, including Iranian influence in the country.

Although Iran helped broker a deal to stem the fighting that has spilled from Basra to other cities in the region, U.S. officials contend that behind the scenes Iran is continuing to supply weapons and training to Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and other criminal elements connected to his militia.

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‘Standing up’ Iraq army looks open-ended

March 29, 2008
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent 1 hour, 20 minutes ago

Iraq’s new army is “developing steadily,” with “strong Iraqi leaders out front,” the chief U.S. trainer assured the American people. That was three-plus years ago, the U.S. Army general was David H. Petraeus, and some of those Iraqi officials at the time were busy embezzling more than $1 billion allotted for the new army’s weapons, according to investigators.

Iraqi army soldiers jubilate during a handing over ceremony ...
Iraqi army soldiers jubilate during a handing over ceremony in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, in this Oct. 29, 2007, file photo. The U.S. military turned over security responsibilities on Monday to Iraqi authorities in the mainly Shiite province of Karbala, the eighth of the nation’s 18 provinces to revert to Iraqi control.(AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani, File)

The 2004-05 Defense Ministry scandal was just one in an unending series of setbacks in the five-year struggle to “stand up” an Iraqi military and allow hard-pressed U.S. forces to “stand down” from Iraq.

The latest discouraging episode was unfolding this weekend in bloody Basra, the southern city where Iraqi government forces — in their toughest test yet — were still struggling to gain the upper hand in a five-day-old battle with Shiite Muslim militias.

Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, freestanding Iraqi army has seemed always to slip further into the future. In the latest shift, with Petraeus now U.S. commander in Iraq, the Pentagon‘s new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when homegrown units will take over security responsibility nationwide, after last year’s reports had forecast a transition in 2008.

Earlier, in January last year, President Bush said Iraqi forces would take charge in all 18 Iraqi provinces by November 2007. Four months past that deadline, they control only half the 18.

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Gates considers US force levels for Iraq

March 21, 2008
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Top U.S. military leaders presented Defense Secretary Robert Gates with their strategy for future force levels in Iraq Thursday, including expected recommendations for a pause in troop cuts for as much as six weeks later this summer.
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The hourlong videoconference marked the start of what will be a series of meetings, presentations and congressional testimony over the next two weeks that will assess the military, political and economic progress in Iraq.

During the Pentagon meeting, Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, heard from the top commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon, and the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

Officials said little about the discussions, but there was no indication Petraeus had backed off his call for a brief pause in troop cuts after July in order to see what effect the lower force levels have on violence in Iraq.

The key questions that Petraeus will face — and that are still unanswered — include how long will the pause will have to last in order to assess the security trends, how many troops will be able to come home once that period is over and if that will allow the Pentagon to reduce Army deployments from the current 15 months to 12 months, beginning with those who head to war in August as hoped.

“This meeting was an opportunity for the secretary to be updated on the current thinking and analysis on the way ahead in Iraq from Admiral Fallon and General Petraeus,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

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