Petraeus takes charge, says it’s ‘critical moment’ in Afghan war
KABUL, Afghanistan — Gen. David H. Petraeus took command of the troubled Afghan war effort on Sunday, warning of hard days to come but promising to persevere until the government and army here are strong enough to stand on their own.
“We are engaged in a tough fight,” he told a gathering of Afghan leaders and American and NATO officers at a ceremony in Kabul. “After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment.
“We must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and ISAF forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people, and that we are in this to win,” he said, referring to the American-led coalition.
Petraeus replaces fellow four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who had led the war effort for the past year. McChrystal’s military career was abruptly ended by remarks he and top aides made in an explosive profile that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
In it, McChrystal and his team disparaged Vice President Joe Biden and expressed irritation with special regional envoy Richard Holbrooke. One of McChrystal’s senior aides was quoted as calling Obama’s national security adviser, James Jones, a “clown.”
Petraeus paid tribute to his predecessor, and many of McChrystal’s senior officers attended, still in their jobs.
Petraeus is taking command at what appears to be a critical, perhaps even decisive, moment in the war, which began in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks. The 30,000 additional troops sent by Obama are still arriving. Once they take their places, Petraeus will have about 100,000 American troops at his disposal and 50,000 from other countries. Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, formally assumed command during a ceremony Sunday in Kabul, Afghanistan.