Entries in General David Petraeus (7)


Gen. Petraeus Tries Improving US Relations with Pakistan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Before leaving his command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus spent Thursday trying to mend fences with Pakistan.

Petraeus, the newly-confirmed CIA director, met with the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in hopes of smoothing over a very rough patch in relations between Washington and Islamabad that was exacerbated by the U.S. Navy SEALS raid in Pakistan last May that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani military and government were not informed about the operation beforehand, which increased already mounting tensions between the two uneasy allies in the battle against Islamic radicals.

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said that the meeting, which also included Petraeus' successor in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. John Allen, covered "various topics of mutual interest and ways to improve regional security."

However, relations aren't expected to be repaired overnight, given that Washington wants to hold back $800 million of the $2 billion in annual assistance it provides to the Pakistani military, while Islamabad is still resistant to U.S. demands that it make a more concerted effort to break the back of Taliban and al Qaeda militancy still active in their country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


General Petraeus Doesn't See Al Qaeda Comeback in Afghanistan

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Disputing published reports, Gen. David Petraeus says that al Qaeda is not making a comeback in Afghanistan.

The Wall Street Journal said it quoted an unidentified American military official as saying "al Qaeda is coming back," citing examples of terrorist training camps, hideouts and bases popping up along the northeastern border with Pakistan.

Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, argued that al Qaeda numbers are small in the country, perhaps no more than 100 fighters.

He did acknowledge that the group has been observed searching for new areas to set up bases, including the mountainous regions of Nuristan and Kunar provinces.

Meanwhile, Petraeus reaffirmed his commitment to stay at his post through Afghanistan's fighting season, which typically wraps up in October or November, when the weather turns cold.  Speculation is rife that he may be in line for the job of CIA director if the current spy agency chief, Leon Panetta, leaves this year, as has been rumored.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Karzai Accepts Gates' Apology on Boys' Deaths

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Visiting Afghanistan on an unannounced trip, Defense Secretary Robert Gates personally apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday for the recent deaths of nine Afghan children during a helicopter strike targeting Taliban fighters.

Karzai accepted the apology, though he had rejected a similar apology Sunday from NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus.

At a news conference in Kabul, Gates told Karzai, "I would also like to offer President Karzai my personal apology because I know these tragedies weigh heavily on his heart and create problems for him as the leader and protector of the Afghan people." Gates acknowledged that civilian casualties also break his heart and that they are not only a tragedy for the families, but also a setback for the Afghan people.

The Taliban is responsible for over 80 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan. But civilian casualties during U.S. and NATO military operations have often been seen negatively by the Afghan population, though the number of civilian deaths has been reduced in recent years.

Gates added, "It is ultimately our duty along with our Afghan partners, to protect the Afghan people -- all of the Afghan people. And to do that we must continue building on the significant security gains achieved by Afghan coalition forces in the last year."

Karzai accepted Gates' apology saying, "I take this apology with respect and agree with it and accept it, and I will say that Secretary Gates from the tip of his heart apologized."

Though he accepted the apology, Karzai added, "With a lot of respect, I will request Secretary Gates to take the plea of the Afghan people to Washington that these civilian casualties stop, and make the utmost effort so we don't have them anymore."

The mistaken civilian deaths in the remote eastern Kunar Province in Afghanistan have been a divisive issue between NATO and Afghan government officials since it occurred in late February.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan President: US Apology Not Good Enough

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Hamid Karzai on Sunday rejected a U.S. apology for the mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys in an air strike.

General David Petraeus personally delivered the apology at an Afghan National Security Council meeting.

Afghanistan's president said that the apology was not enough.

"The people of Afghanistan are tired of these incidents and excuses, and condemnations cannot relieve their pain,” Karzai said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Gen. Petraeus Not 'Sure' Victory in Afghanistan by 2014

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- General David Petraeus is encouraged by the progress made since President Obama's surge of forces into Afghanistan, but is he confident that the Afghan army can take the lead from U.S. forces by NATO's 2014 deadline?

“I think no commander ever is going to come out and say, ‘I'm confident that we can do this.’  I think that you say that you assess that this is -- you believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect and knowing how important it is -- that we have to do everything we can to increase the chances of that prospect,” the top commander in Afghanistan told ABC News in an exclusive interview.  “But again, I don't think there are any sure things in this kind of endeavor.  And I wouldn't be honest with you and with the viewers if I didn't convey that.”

After nine years of war, fewer Afghans support a U.S. presence in the country and fewer believe that the United States makes their country any safer, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll -- something that the U.S.  “clearly” needs to continue to work on, Petraeus said.

“Well, we clearly have to continue to provide the message to the Afghan people about why we're here, and what it is that we want to do, not just for our own national objectives and coalition objectives, but also for the people of this country, and for the government of Afghanistan, to enable them, indeed, to secure and to govern themselves,” Petraeus said.

Petraeus said he is “not sure” why support for the U.S. presence has slipped over the last year, but suggested that some of the poll cutoff dates were before recent progress began.

Petraeus added that it is “hard to say” how much of Afghanistan the Taliban control.  Recent intelligence shows U.S. gains over the last 6 months, he said -- but he also acknowledged a “resilient” enemy that regenerates, which is why he said this war will take a “sustained, substantial commitment.”

So what does the end of our “substantial commitment” in Afghanistan look like?  “It looks like an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself.  And it's one that incrementally demonstrates the ability to do that, not suddenly.  Between the summer of 2011 and the end of 2014 there will be, again, a series of transitions, starting most likely at districts, not in overall provinces,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


General Petraeus Upbeat, Cites Signs of Progress in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Offering an upbeat assessment of the war in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus said Friday that progress -- some of it substantial -- has been made over the last 18 months.

Speaking at London's Royal United Services Institute, General Petraeus painted a picture of Afghanistan in which the Taliban's ability to mount attacks is being reduced, where Afghan-led security and governance is growing and where civil society is beginning to take root.

NATO Ambassador Mark Sedwill, Petraeus' diplomatic counterpart, emphasized the need for coalition nations to get on the same page regarding the timeline in Afghanistan. Sedwill said the process of transitioning from International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops to Afghan security will begin in 2011, with the goal of completing that transition by the end of 2014. Both men indicated the time is right to begin that transition.

Citing success with counterterrorism operations, Petraeus said 300 Taliban leaders had been captured or killed in the last 90 days, including the third-highest ranking al-Qaida operative in Afghanistan, who was killed in a "rough and rugged" area in the eastern part of the country.

Petraeus said the number of counterterrorism, or precision special forces-type raids in Afghanistan, is three to four times as many as were conducted at the height of the surge in Iraq, because the U.S. military has greatly increased the number of "enablers" used to plan for such missions. Likewise, the number of drones, analysts and the technological infrastructure necessary to pinpoint targets and conduct raids has never been greater.

With the insurgents knocked back, the Afghan government has begun low-level political discussions with representatives of the Taliban leadership currently hiding out in Pakistan. Petraeus said while neither the U.S. nor ISAF is taking part in the talks, ISAF forces have allowed Taliban members to make the trip to Kabul without being targeted or arrested. A political settlement is viewed as essential to any eventual handover of full power to the Afghan government.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Did Rescue Team Kill British Aid Worker?

Photo Courtesy - British Foreign and Commonwealth Office(LONDON) -- British aid worker Linda Norgrove might have been killed by the people who were trying to rescue her, rather than her kidnappers.  United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron said he received a call from Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, informing him of the possible accident.

Cameron said Gen. Petraeus told him a member of the U.S. special forces team detonated a grenade during the rescue operation, and that grenade might have killed Norgrove, who was working in Afghanistan for an American contractor.  This finding conflicts with initial reports indicating the explosion was triggered by a captor close to Norgrove.

Gen. Petraeus' office has released a statement in which he requests an investigation be made to determine how Norgrove was killed.  His office states that after reviewing surveillance footage and holding discussions with members involved in Norgrove's rescue efforts, her cause of death can not be conclusively determined.

The U.S. military will team up with the British government to conduct the investigation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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