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
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
"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.
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.
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."