New CIA Chief Petraeus Hands Over Command In Afghanistan
By Dialogo July 19, 2011
U.S. General David Petraeus, Washington’s new intelligence chief, handed over command of U.S. and NATO-led troops in Afghanistan on July 18th; a day after a tentative start was made to a gradual process of transferring security to Afghan forces.
Petraeus, credited with reversing a spiral toward civil war in Iraq, took over in Afghanistan on July 4, 2010, and is leaving the military to take over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency as part of a wider shake-up of senior U.S. security officials.
Petraeus oversaw a “surge” of 30,000 extra U.S. forces which helped stop the momentum of a growing insurgency, especially in the Taliban heartland in the south.
However, despite gains in violent southern provinces during Petraeus’ year in charge, the Taliban-led insurgency is still far from quelled.
Violence across Afghanistan in 2010 hit its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted by U.S-led Afghan forces in 2001, with civilian and military casualties hitting record levels, and this year has followed a similar trend.
“We should be clear-eyed about the challenges that lie ahead,” Petraeus said at a ceremony to mark the change of command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to U.S. Marine Corps General John Allen.
Underlining those challenges, ISAF said three of its troops had been killed by a homemade bomb in Afghanistan’s east, where some of the toughest fighting has taken place over the past year and where a fractured insurgency still rages.
While some analysts have questioned the success of Petraeus’ much-vaunted counter-insurgency strategy in the face of rising violence, Allen vowed to press on but also warned of the challenges ahead.
“It is my intention to maintain the momentum of this great campaign on which we have embarked,” Allen said. “There will be tough days ahead.”
Petraeus is expected to begin his new job at the CIA in September.
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