Petraeus: 2011 Afghan Exit Date May Not Work
US-led coalition can still succeed, he says
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2010 7:02 AM CDT
Gen. David Petraeus speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on July 1, 2010.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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(Newser) – In his first public remarks since taking over the command of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan last month, Gen. David Petraeus told the New York Times that he will not be bound by Barack Obama's 2011 drawdown date. "The president didn’t send me over here to seek a graceful exit," he said. "My marching orders are to do all that is humanly possible to help us achieve our objectives."

Obama has said he'll start pulling troops out of Afghanistan next July—100,000 are on the ground now. But Petraeus said he may encourage the president to delay that drawdown, and that he would oppose a rapid or large-scale withdrawal. "What he wants from me is my best professional military advice," the general said. And progress is being made, Petraeus added. Troops have managed to uncover Taliban insurgents, and the Afghan government and military are making strides.