WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has made clear he wants the best military advice possible concerning the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and ultimately, the situation on the ground will drive the timetable, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander there, said in an interview to be aired this weekend.
“What the president very much wants from me, and what we talked about in the Oval Office, is the responsibility of a military commander on the ground is to provide his best professional military advice [and] leave the politics to him,” Petraeus told NBC’s David Gregory.
NBC released excerpts of the interview, scheduled to be broadcast Aug. 15 on “Meet the Press.”
“Certainly, I am aware of the context within which I offer that advice,” Petraeus said. “But that just informs the advice; it doesn’t drive it. The situation on the ground drives it.”
Looking ahead to Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops, Petraeus said the challenge now is to demonstrate signs of progress.
“I think our job is again to show those in Washington that there is progress being made,” he said. “To do that, we’ve got to build on the progress that has been established so far, because there is certainly nothing like irreversible momentum.”
Petraeus, who previously served as U.S. Central Command commander, assumed command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan last month. He replaced Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)