Af-Pak Hearing: Here’s Petraeus
And here’s the counterinsurgency hero, Gen. David Petraeus. “The most pressing transnational threat” from extremists “in the world” are here in Af-Pak. “Reversing the downward spiral… will require sustained commitment,” which the new strategy will meet. Af-Pak is “a single theater that requires whole-of-governments” — he emphasizes the plural — “approaches.”
So here’s the military strategy, which he candidly says “will not be sufficient to achieve our objectives.” He then advocates for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budgets before Congress.”Secure the people, pursue the extremists … reduce the illegal narcotics industry … and increase Afghan national and local governance.” U.S. troops will work with Afghan forces to secure the national election in August. Those troops “will only be valuable if employed correctly” — not as “would-be conquerors or superiors” but “partners” who work to secure the population and to reduce civilian casualties. He’s careful to praise Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan. He ties the extremists in the tribal areas to international attacks, including planning for U.S. homeland attacks. Blames them for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. “To be sure, the extremists have sustained losses,” he says, crediting the Pakistani military, “but it is in Pakistan that al-Qaeda’s senior leadership is located.” So the U.S. needs to support the Pakistan military to confront it. “It is important that the United States be seen as a reliable ally … they need our continued support.” The U.S. military will “expand our partnership with the Pakistani military to build its counterinsurgency capabilities” with training, equipment and education. Also intelligence capabilities. Will bring Afghan and Pakistani forces together on the border “to help coordinate these two forces.”
He supports the “targeting and destruction” of the leadership — presumably the drone attacks, and wants to win over the population and “reconcilable” insurgents. That will be interesting to hear him expand upon.
Finally, Petraeus puts in a word for not ignoring Iraq and its “lingering ethnic and sectarian mistrust.” Progress “is fragile and reversible, though less so when I left there this fall.”
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