Jan 26, 2011

Petraeus Cites ‘Impressive’ Progress in Letter to Troops

Petraeus Cites ‘Impressive’ Progress in Letter to Troops

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2011 – Continued hard work will lead to sustained progress in Afghanistan this year, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force there told his troops in a letter dated today.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus addressed his comments to ISAF’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians.

They and their Afghan counterparts “did tremendous work in 2010,” Petraeus wrote, terming their progress “impressive.”

ISAF’s core objective in Afghanistan is to ensure that country never again becomes a sanctuary for al-Qaida or other transnational extremists, Petraeus wrote. Achieving that objective requires “a comprehensive civil-military campaign” aimed at helping Afghanistan develop the ability to secure and govern itself, he added.

Additional ISAF forces, the growth of the Afghan army and police, an increase in the number of civilian partners, and the associated funding to enable it all contributed to 2010’s gains, Petraeus wrote. The effort received a boost, the general noted, when NATO leaders at the alliance’s November summit in Lisbon, Portugal, endorsed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s goal of Afghan forces taking the security lead throughout his nation by the end of 2014.

Afghan and coalition forces increased security in Kabul, Helmand and Kandahar provinces over 2010, Petraeus wrote, and advanced security conditions in the east, west and north.

“The beginning of Afghan-led reintegration of reconcilable insurgents, and the relentless pace of targeted operations by ISAF and Afghan special operations forces” also aided security growth, Petraeus wrote.

“Now, in fact, the insurgents increasingly are responding to our operations, rather than vice-versa, and there are numerous reports of unprecedented discord among the Quetta Shura, the Taliban senior leadership body,” Petraeus noted.

Progress in Afghanistan over 2010 was not easy, Petraeus acknowledged.

“To the contrary, our successes entailed hard fighting, tough losses, and periodic setbacks. … You had to transition from intense combat to complex stability operations –- and back again –- on innumerable occasions, sometimes on the same day,” he wrote. “Your versatility, skill, determination and courage have truly been the stuff of history.”

Work ahead in 2011 will remain challenging, Petraeus told his troops.

Afghanistan and ISAF forces must extend the security “bubbles” around Kabul and in the east and west of the country, while halting and reversing insurgent advances in the north and northeast, the general wrote. ISAF must also support increased Afghan self-governance and anti-corruption efforts, he added. “We will need to pursue initiatives to ensure that our contracting and procurement activities are part of the solution rather than a continuing part of the problem,” he wrote.

Given the “skill and will” that coalition and Afghan troops have demonstrated over the past year, Petraeus wrote, he is confident they “will prove equal to the difficult tasks that lie ahead.”

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