Army Gen. David H. Petraeus believes that although the effort in Afghanistan has ways to go–thanks to sufficient resources and a new strategy–the campaign is on track.
The progress achieved so far in Afghanistan is “about standard for any one of these kinds of deliberate campaigns,” he said.
The current Afghanistan strategy has been in place since 2008, the general said, when new organizational structures and some new leaders were installed, more resources were given, and the military’s approach changed. With now nearly 100,000 U.S. troops on the ground, “What that is enabling us to do for the first time here is to carry out a comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency campaign,” Petraeus said.
He also mentioned the effort is focusing just as much on medical care and training of Afghan forces as on military exercises.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates echoed Petraeus when he visited troops last week.
“In terms of understanding what we need to do, we’re a long way ahead of where we were a year or two or three ago,” Gates said. “There is a lot of hard fighting to go, but the confidence of these young men and women that they can be successful, in turn, gives me confidence.”
Gates said he is hoping that a case for progress in Afghanistan can be built by a the end of the year, when NATO will host a summit in Lisbon and U.S. will conduct a defense strategy review.
“Based on what I’ve seen here today, I’m hopeful that we will be in that position,” he said.