Petraeus Testifies on Afghanistan
2:43 PM, Mar 15, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
General David Petraeus testified earlier today at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Afghanistan. The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan sounded optimistic, yet cautious:
Here’s Petraeus’s full opening statement:
Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, it’s a privilege to be here today with Undersecretary Flournoy to report on the situation in Afghanistan. However, before I proceed, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the people of Japan as they recover from one of the worst natural disasters in their history. For many years now, Japan has been a stalwart partner in Afghanistan and has made many vital contributions to the mission. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.
Bottom Line Up Front
As a bottom line up front, it is ISAF’s assessment that the momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas. However, while the security progress achieved over the past year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible. Moreover, it is clear that much difficult work lies ahead with our Afghan partners to solidify and expand our gains in the face of the expected Taliban spring offensive. Nonetheless, the hard-fought achievements in 2010 and early 2011 have enabled the Joint Afghan-NATO Transition Board to recommend initiation this spring of transition to Afghan lead in several provinces. The achievements of the past year are also very important as I prepare to provide options and a recommendation to President Obama for commencement of the drawdown of the US surge forces in July. Of note, as well, the progress achieved has put us on the right azimuth to accomplish the objective agreed upon at last November’s Lisbon Summit, that of Afghan forces in the lead throughout the country by the end of 2014.
Getting the Inputs Right
The achievements of 2010 and early 2011 have been enabled by a determined effort to get the inputs right in Afghanistan. With the strong support of the United States and the 47 other troop-contributing countries, ISAF has focused enormous attention and resources over the past two years on building the organizations needed to conduct a comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign, on staffing those organizations properly, on developing – in close coordination with our Afghan partners – the requisite concepts and plans, and, above all, on deploying the additional forces, civilians, and funding needed. Indeed, more than 87,000 additional ISAF troopers and 1,000 additional civilians have been added to the effort in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2009. And Afghanistan’s Security Forces have grown by over 122,000 in that time, as well.