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The Killid Group

Petraeus, eight months to win or lose

Written by Killid commentary
Saturday, 09 April 2011 10:40

Petraeus, eight months to win or lose U.S.'s war hero and the man his President chose to turn the tide in the war in Afghanistan is set to leave at the end of this year. He has considered the results of his counterinsurgency prescription "fragile and reversible".  He has eight months to show that under him things have got better. It seems difficult, so far.
The 59-year-old four-star U.S. military general, David Howell Petraeus, will leave Afghanistan along with thousands of U.S.-NATO troops who have served under his so-called "surge" project over the past one year.
He replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top commander of all U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan in June 2010 after McChrystal was sacked for his bizarre criticisms of senior officials in President Obama's administration which were published in a Rolling Stone story.
Gen. Petraeus is widely appreciated in the U.S. for his critical role in the de-escalation of armed violence in Iraq during his tenure as Commanding General of Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) from January 2007 to September 2008. From October 2008 to June 2010, Mr. Petraeus served as commander of the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). He is the architect and mastermind of the U.S. military's new counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) which apparently emphasizes on the protection of civilian communities as a tactic to 'win hearts and minds' and defeat the enemy.
News about Petraeus's departure has been disseminated in the mainstream U.S. media and are yet to be formally approved by the Pentagon but by December 2011 he would have completed his 18-month mission and the high-profile general has shown no interests in extending his current duty for another year.

Difficult, if not impossible
Right from his arrival to Afghanistan in July 2010, Gen. Petraeus found himself leading a difficult war in which his counterinsurgency prescription appears to be less effective if not totally ineffective.
U.S.-NATO's official rhetoric, however, is that Gen. Petraeus has managed to turn the tide in Afghanistan and has "weakened" the insurgency. In his own testimony to the U.S. Congress in March, Petraeus said that his tactical military achievements were "fragile and reversible".
In the eyes of ordinary Afghans, meanwhile, Gen. Petraeus and his military surge has done little to protect them from the harms of the conflict. Indeed Taliban insurgents were blamed for an overwhelming majority of the over 2,770 civilian deaths in 2010 as reported by the UN but it also pointed to the failure of Gen. Petraeus's COIN strategy which heavily emphasizes on the protection of civilians.
Although allied in principle, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has turned to be a challenge than a genuine partner for Gen. Petraeus. Civilian casualties resulting from U.S.-NATO military operations have been contentious and highly controversial issues which have tarnished trust and partnership between Karzai and Petraeus. In March, President Karzai rebuffed Gen. Petraeus's rare apology on the killing of 9 Afghan children at a U.S.-NATO airstrike in the eastern Kunar Province.
The next eight months are crucial in Gen. Petraeus' calendar. As he approaches to the end of his assignment, he has to demonstrate that, at least militarily, things have got better in Afghanistan under his leadership. This is a difficult job, if not impossible.
Although he boasts about breaking the backbone of the Taliban, Gen. Petraeus does not deserve to be commended for one thing: a de-escalation of armed violence in Afghanistan and the protection of civilians from the harms of war.

Comments (1)

  • Saturday, 07 April 2012 06:30 | DE Teodoru
    As in Vietnam, we plan operational program as if enemy cannot muck it up at critical junctures. Petraeus is a SURGEon who screwed up a major SURGEry and now insists that he has a right to impose himself as a SURGEon on Afghanistan whether it likes it or not because his reputation as a SURGEon is at stake....Well finally, Obama realized that we can't afford to keep giving Petraeus all the equipment he needs in trying to retrive his unearned reputation with the media.

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