McChrystal Surprised by 'Breadth of Violence'

Civilian casualties all-important in Afghanistan, commander says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 7:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose mission for the last few months has been to size up the situation in Afghanistan and redirect US strategy, says he found the violence to be worse than he expected going in. “I think that in some areas that the breadth of violence, the geographical spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered,” he tells 60 Minutes in an interview airing Sunday. He says he was also surprised to discover just how important limiting civilian casualties is to the war effort.

It’s “much more important than I even realized,” he says. “It is literally how we lose the war, or in many ways, how we win it.” McChrystal has made it clear that civilian protection trumps killing terrorists, halting operations that endanger civilians and placing limits on air strikes. “If people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can’t be successful,” he say, “and our casualties will go up dramatically.”