March 16th, 2010
03:12 PM ET

Petraeus warns tough fighting ahead in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - The war in Afghanistan will get tougher before it gets easier, the general in charge of military operations in the region told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Gen. David Petraeus - the head of Central Command, which includes both Afghanistan and Iraq in its area of responsibility - told the Senate Armed Services Committee that as the United States institutes its surge of 30,000 troops and NATO increases operations, the fighting is "likely to get harder before it gets easier" because "the enemy will fight back."

Petraeus said in his opening statement to the committee that the fighting in 2010 will be difficult and will include "setbacks." But he also said the violence will not be as high as it was half a year ago, before the Obama surge strategy was instituted.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the top Republican on the committee, questioned what he described as the Obama administration plans to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Petraeus defended the plan by saying that July 2011 "is not a date when we bolt for the exits" but a point of transition to Afghan security forces and a "responsible" reduction of force.

On Iraq, Petraeus said the situation has improved and the United States continues its plan to draw down troops with an eye on the fragile security situation while that country works out the results of its latest election.

He said the military might reconfigure the forces that stay to include another headquarters "if indeed we think there is a particularly fragile situation, say in a certain area, say in the north," where the security situation is less stable.

However, Petraeus said the United States remains on track to be at 50,000 troops by year's end and emphasized that any change would be in reconfiguration of the troops that stay, not in the overall number. About 100,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq.

President Barack Obama has said that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end by August 31 this year, and all U.S. forces will be out of the country by 2012, the deadline set under an agreement the Bush administration signed with the Iraqi government.

–CNN's Katherine Cotsonas contributed to this report.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. m asif

    we people of the world should be judicious in our observations and decisions.Muslims are also human beings.A human should think of the betterment.of all human beings.The mother and father of a muslim infant is as much important as of an American one.U have destroyed Iraq for Saddam husain u have destroyed Afghanistan For Osama the unconfirmed alleged.U have destroed Veitnam and various acts of destructions committed by u. The Almighty God is seeing and He will Certainly take the revenge of the sufferings of mankind at ur hands.Be judicious and stop tyrrany.Fearof ur creator.

    March 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. John Donne

    Sure John Donne, the English poet's namesake, living in the world of 400 years after him, got to utter few words.
    Bush was the right President'. it's a disgrace for Americans intelligence to have a non-tried first generation American be President at this critical juncture in history. Sorry, he won't deliver. Allll he knows is to deliver plausible sermons.
    You got to win in Iraq and Afganistan no matter what, or face decline of morale and prestige of America worldwide.
    Think of how Britain, a country in deep debt and bombed out homeland, declared war on Germany and won. How come? They knew it needed leadership of the highest order, so dug out Winston Churchil from wilderness. He did the job by sheer will, and confidence,

    March 18, 2010 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. lets die

    plz leave us alone .Get out of our country.we dont want you US in this country any more.
    we will be happy if u just leave us alone.BE LIVE AND LET OTHER LIVE.\ IN THEIR OWN STYLE.

    March 18, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    For Jessica,but those cowardly butchers operating those ungodly drones can and do strike at will,killing many people and maiming many others.

    March 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott

    The military climax of this conflict is near. Ideally, we will be able to completely marginalize the Taliban militarily and politically and then assist in creating a viable Afghan government with vigorous international support. By the end of this year, hopefully we will have a much clearer picture on whether we will be able to "win the peace". Let's hope those in charge and on the ground exude the diplomatic strength, cultural sensitivity and humanitarian sympathy that will undermine a savvy enemy

    March 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Anderson Clayton

    I am convinced we will soon be finding out, the hard way I am afraid, why the Soviets, after years of fight, have collected all their belongings and headed back home, defeated and almost bankrupted.
    It won't be for a lack of advising!

    March 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jessica

    The fighting will be tough. Casualties will likely be high because of the Commanders ridiculous "RULES OF ENGAGEMENT". Our forces can"t shoot back if there are civilians nearby? Maybe this General should have all these civilians clear out so the Taliban can"t hide behind women and children! Let our Marines and Soldiers wipe out these barbarians and then let the civilians come back.

    March 17, 2010 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. http://twitter.com/whybs

    McCain,

    I used to admire you but you are not in charge! Why don't you STFU & let McChrystal, Obama & Petraeus do their job?

    Remember? You were shot down! You didn't make strategic decisions that would have affected the outcome of the Vietnam War!

    That's right - STFU, John! Put your ego aside and retire!

    March 16, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon Hausrath

    I'd like to say that I think the tough fight ahead will be Gen. Petraeus's fight to convince people we are fighting just wars.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ryan

    I was there and served for 7 months. I just got back.I want the public to know, it is totally unlike Iraq. It lacks infustruture, thus the fighting is much more difficult to maintain with the uneduacated Afghan Army.

    March 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. arch

    What happened to obama and his plan of getting out in a few months and shutting down Gitmo in a year. I think that has gone by and also getting out of iraq. Now he says we will be out by this date, which happens to be the date set by Bush. Obama is such an idiot. He has no management skills nor leadership skills. He might have been good as a community organizer but he is lousy as our so-called leader. If he has a micron of a brain particle he will listen to his Generals. They know what they are talking about. I still don't understand why we should close Gitmo. It is doing the job it was created for and quite well. Why close something that nobody can get into just to move these jokers to the states like obama and his other stupid buddy want to do. The military is how they should be dealt with and only the military. This is not a joke of a crime. It is not a crime, but a war! They should be treated differently. I wonder if he would have the same thought process if he had a son that was over there fighting and was killed and they caught the guys who did and we put them on trial in our civil courts. Would he like the fact that they would be able to say anything they wanted and have a good chance of getting off. Sort of like O.J. and his jury! obama doesn't care about the people of America. He only cares about himself and how he looks. He thinks this is all fun and games. What a joke!

    March 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tristan

    Im glad we are taking the offensive, you can not win a war without being agressive

    March 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A. Smith, Oregon

    Are both McChrystal and Petraus out of the loop of factual information in Afghanistan? Gates summary appears to be pull out soon before the foobar and morass which has became known as the US Invasion of Afghanistan becomes even worst than it now is.

    Gen's McChrystal and Petraus appeared to be utterly out of the loop and utterly surprise that the allegedly corrupt Afghanistan President Karzai was in the middle of negotiations with Aghan Taliban #2 when the CIA swept in and with the supposed help of the Pakistani ISI arrested Taliban's #2 man in Pakistan recently.

    Afghanistan Presidential aide reported that Karzai is extremely angry’ at Taliban boss’ arrest.

    Apparently Gen McChrystal, Petraus and his staff were not even aware that the Afghan government was holding secret talks with the Taliban's No. 2 when he was captured in Pakistan, and that the arrest totally infuriated President Hamid Karzai.

    The detention of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — second in the Taliban only to one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar — has raised new questions about whether the U.S. is willing to back peace discussions with leaders who harbored the terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Karzai "was very angry" when he heard that the Pakistanis had picked up Baradar with an assist from U.S. intelligence, the adviser said. Besides the ongoing talks, he said Baradar had "given a green light" to participating in a three-day peace jirga that Karzai is hosting next month.

    Perhaps more than anyone in the entire region of Afghanistan, Karzi knows his life won't be worth spit if he can't work out some arrangement with the Taliban before the American troops leave next year. President Karzi is not yet planning his exit strategy, he is however trying desperately to insure his personal survival HOWEVER it now appears some US Agency's do not want him to succeed!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |