Petraeus pledges to revamp US strategy in Afghanistan to protect troops

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Washington, June 30(ANI): US commander in-charge of NATO operations in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has said that he would closely review restrictions on airstrikes and artillery in Afghanistan to protect his troops.

During his Senate confirmation hearing to be the top commander in Afghanistan, General Petraeus said: "I want to assure the mothers and fathers of those fighting in Afghanistan that I see it as a moral imperative to bring all assets to bear to protect our men and women in uniform."

"Those on the ground must have all the support they need when they are in a tough situation," The New York Times quoted General Petraeus, as saying.

General McChrystal had faced rising complaints in recent months from troops who said that they felt "handcuffed" by the rules, and that restrictions on airstrikes had prolonged battles and cost lives.

He further said that he has discussed the issue with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, as well as other Afghan leaders, "and they are in full agreement with me on this".

"If confirmed, I would continue the emphasis on reducing loss of civilian life in the course of operations to an absolute minimum, while also ensuring that we provide whatever assets are necessary to ensure the safety" of American, NATO and Afghan forces, General Petraeus said in a written answer to a question asked in advance by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"I mention this because I am keenly aware of concerns by some of our troopers on the ground about the application of our rules of engagement and the tactical directive," he added.

General Petraeus' statement signaled what could be his first departure from the policies of former commander General Stanley A. McChrystal, who was fired last week by President Barack Obama. (ANI)

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