Afghanistan — Petraeus: Conditions Will Drive Afghanistan Withdrawal

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)

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