General David Petraeus, the new commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, called for unity today in the civilian and military effort to turn back the Taliban and stabilise the troubled country.
“In this important endeavour, cooperation is not optional,” Petraeus told about 1,700 invited guests, including Afghan government and military and police officials, gathered at the US Embassy. “Civilian and military, Afghanistan and international, we are part of one team with one mission.”
Petraeus added that the campaign to bolster the Afghan government in the face of the insurgent threat “is an effort in which we must achieve unity of effort”. He told the Afghan dignitaries, “Your success is our success.”
The remarks were Petraeus’ first public comment since he arrived Friday night to assume command of the troubled international military mission in Afghanistan. His predecessor, General Stanley McChrystal, was fired last month for intemperate remarks by him and his aides about Obama administration figures to Rolling Stone magazine.
Appearing with Petraeus, US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said America’s commitment to Afghanistan would not wane, despite sagging US public support for the conflict and President Barack Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing US troops.
“We’ll keep at it. We’ll persevere,” Eikenberry said. “We’re committed for the long term.”
Eikenberry called the new commander a “great friend” and handed him an access badge to the embassy, just across the street from NATO headquarters.
“Welcome aboard. You are welcome at this embassy 24-7,” Eikenberry said.
McChrystal told Rolling Stone that he felt “betrayed” by Eikenberry’s opposition to the general’s request for a substantial increase in US troops in Afghanistan. Eikenberry’s opposition to the plan was contained in diplomatic cables leaked in Washington, a move McChrystal suspected was aimed at protecting the ambassador if the war effort failed.