Petraeus says progress will be slow in Afghanistan

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2009 10:57 AM

A top-ranking American warned Congress Wednesday that the military situation in Afghanistan likely will "get harder before it gets easier."

Yet Gen. David Petraeus, who executed the Iraq surge in 2007, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Afghanistan is in no worse condition now than Iraq was when he arrived there to take command of U.S. forces two years ago.

Petraeus also said the aims of the Taliban and the al-Qaida are "mutually reinforcing missions that cannot be untethered" from one another. Petraeus is commanding general of US Central Command, which has responsibility for overseeing US military activities in Central Asia _ including Afghanistan and Pakistan _ as well as the Middle East.

Petraeus said he believes that the new policy announced last week by President Barack Obama "will over the next 18 months enable us to make important progress."

He said he thought the change in strategy should help "reverse the Taliban momentum" while increasing the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces, improving the safety of the Afghan people and upgrading "the Afghan governance." Petraeus said he thought all those factors would help "set the conditions" leading to a possible drawdown of U.S. forces in a year and a half.