Petraeus: War going well

2010-07-01 17:45

Brussels – General David Petraeus, Nato's newly appointed commander of Afghanistan, sought to reassure allies on Thursday that the war against the Taliban was going well despite rising military casualties and problems regaining control over key parts of the country.

Petraeus said there would be no change in the counterinsurgency strategy implemented by his predecessor, Stanley McChrystal, who was ousted by President Barack Obama last week.

But, said Petraeus, he said the rules of engagement, designed to limit civilian casualties and improve support for US and Nato forces fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, would be examined to improve their efficiency.

"There has been tough fighting and tough casualties ... but we are determined to achieve progress in coming months," Petraeus said.

Petraeus, whose appointment was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate on Wednesday, said the emphasis on reducing civilian casualties would remain a priority.

"In counterinsurgency, the human terrain is the decisive terrain, and you must do everything possible to reduce civilian casualties... in the course of military operations," he said.

But he added there was no intention of changing the rules of engagement but the alliance would look "very hard at how the rules are implemented and ensure that there is even implementation across all units."

US troops account for two-thirds of the 122 000-strong international force in Afghanistan, while the allies make up the rest.

McChrystal's sacking came amid growing disillusionment with the war in Europe and a spate of bad news from the battlefields.

Allied deaths have doubled in the first six months of this year, with June the deadliest month on record with at least 102 deaths among international service members.