Thursday, February 10, 2011

Petraeus In His Own Words

on NATO TV. 

Interesting stuff.  Strange camera angles--the camera folks liked General Dave's hands.  But it is interesting to here the message that Petraeus wants to put out there.  Transition is conditions based and thinning out.  The idea is that responsibility for the safest/governed districts will be handed over to the Afghans--with the ISAF forces getting a bit smaller in those areas and not pulling out.  The word "irreversible" was used a lot when I heard about transition last week at NATO HQs in Brussels, Mons, and Brunssum. 

While the transition process is going to be very complex, two points stand out:
  1. Who chooses which districts to be transitioned?  There are heaps of politics in play here as Karzai may want his pals to be transitioned first, rather than which spots deserve it the most.  So, it is not clear that General Dave is going to get the districts he wants to be transitioned.
  2. Petraeus may want to redeploy ISAF troops from the transitioned places to where they are needed more.  But most of the ISAF troops in the safer places are there for a reason--they are the more restricted troops who cannot be deployed to the South or East.  Yes, there are dangerous places in the North and West, so there may be some room for moving the pieces around, but not as much as Petraeus would like.
Still, Petraeus is doing a nice job of explaining the likely trend ahead--more violence as the Taliban try to reverse their loss of momentum and as there are far more troops on the ground, making contact much more frequent.  Petraeus is doing a better job of setting expectations than Hosni Mubarak, but that is not saying much, is it?

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