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Petraeus: Expect No 'Victory Parade' in Afghanistan... Ever
Petraeus casts doubt on 2014 Afghanistan timeline
WASHINGTON — US war commander General David Petraeus has expressed doubts about the prospect of a 2014 pullout from Afghanistan, admitting that a "resilient" Taliban, squeezed out of some areas, simply pops up in others.
Asked by ABC television in an interview that aired early Monday, Petraeus would not say he was confident that an Afghan government and its security forces would be stable and competent enough to take over from the US-led coalition four years from now, as envisaged by Washington.
"I don't know that you say confident. I think no commander ever is going to come out and say 'I'm confident that we can do this,'" Petraeus said in the interview in Afghanistan.
"I think that we say you assess, we believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect," and that US forces were doing "everything we can to increase the chances of that prospect.
"But, again, I don't think there's any sure things in this kind of endeavor, and I wouldn't be honest with you or the viewers if i didn't convey that."
Petraeus's moment of candor comes in the wake of US President Barack Obama's unannounced trip Friday to Afghanistan -- his second since taking office nearly two years ago -- where he reassured US troops that they were winning the war against Taliban insurgents.
And while Obama warned there would be "difficult days ahead" in the fight, Petraues suggested those days would be filled with a struggle to flush out an mobile enemy.
"Certainly in each operation you will kill or capture some (insurgents) and some others will run off or wiggle out. And that is why you do have to continue to go after them," Petraeus said.
"This is actually true of the overall fight against Al-Qaeda and transnational extremists. As you put pressure on them in one location, they'll seek safe haven and sanctuaries in other areas."
Petraeus said it was "hard to say" how much of the country the insurgents control, but acknowledged that "the Taliban is resilient," and the war against them is no conventional fight, he stressed.
"This is not a case where you see the hill that you have to take, you take it, you plant the flag and you go home to a victory parade," he said.
"This is a much more complex endeavor than that."