Petraeus to take control of Afghan NATO forces SundayJuly 4th, 2010 - 7:35 am ICT by IANS
Washington/Kabul, July 4 (DPA) US General David Petraeus was to take command of NATO forces in Afghanistan Sunday after calling for a “unity of effort” among US civilian and military officials.
The four-star general will take over from General Stanley McChrystal, who was relieved of command for disparaging remarks about White House leadership of the US mission in a media profile.
Petraeus told guests at the US embassy in Kabul on Saturday that “cooperation is not optional,” according to The Washington Post.
“Civilian and military, Afghan and international, we are a part of one team, with one mission,” Petraeus was quoted as saying.
US President Barack Obama, US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke all came in for harsh criticism by McChrystal’s aides in the profile that appeared in Rolling Stone in late June.
McChrystal’s dismissal came as the US-led international forces suffer ever more losses trying to bring the Taliban under control and amidst growing White House worry about the failure of the Afghan government to bring corruption under control and face down the Taliban.
Petraeus, 57, made his mark in Iraq, where he successfully led the 2007 surge against militants and laid the groundwork for the US withdrawal of combat troops in August.
In firing McChrystal, Obama made clear the importance of the US military and diplomats to work hand in hand to complete the Afghanistan mission.
On his way to Kabul, Petraeus stopped in Brussels to meet with NATO diplomats. He pledged that NATO forces in Afghanistan would do everything they can to keep Afghan civilian casualties down.
But he also said that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should take a second look at its battlefield rules to make sure that troops are given the full protection of air power and artillery when they need it.
The Rolling Stone article which led to McChrystal’s fall quoted front-line troops as saying that the rules of engagement meant that they had to go into battle without adequate support.
ISAF casualties have soared this year, with over 100 deaths from roadside bombs and in combat in June alone.
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