Petraeus rules out drastic changes in Afghan war policy

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Brussels (Belgium), July 2 (ANI): NATO's newly appointed Afghan war commander General David Petraeus has ruled out any drastic changes in the counterinsurgency policies which were implemented by his sacked predecessor General Stanley McChrystal.

Briefing allies at the NATO headquarters here before taking up his new job in Afghanistan, Petraeus said that despite a rise in military casualties in the recent days, the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was 'going well.'

He admitted that the US troops stationed in Afghanistan are dissatisfied with the strategy limiting the use of air strike, artillery and mortar fire to prevent civilian casualties, and he would take necessary action to provide for greater security of his forces.

"There are concerns among the ranks of some of our troops on the ground that some of the processes have become a bit too bureaucratic," The Daily Times quoted Petraeus, as saying.

" I have a moral imperative as a commander... to bring all force that is available to bear when our troopers, and by the way our Afghan partners, are in a tough position," he said during a press conference after meeting the NATO commanders.

Earlier, Petraeus had 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," he added.

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.

"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. (ANI)

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