Afghanistan — UK Effort Critical in Afghanistan, Petraeus Tells Britons

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010 — Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, empha­sized yes­ter­day in Lon­don the crit­i­cal role the Unit­ed King­dom has played in Iraq – and the impor­tance of its con­tin­ued sup­port for the coali­tion to suc­ceed in Afghanistan.

Petraeus praised the U.K.‘s role in the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force dur­ing an address to the Roy­al Unit­ed Ser­vices Insti­tute, an inde­pen­dent “think tank” involved in defense and secu­ri­ty research. The RUSI was found­ed in 1831 by the Duke of Welling­ton. The U.K. con­sists of Great Britain and North­ern Ire­land. Great Britain, or Britain, con­sists of Eng­land, Scot­land and Wales.

“Now that we are tak­ing the lessons learned in Iraq and using them, with great care, to inform our cam­paign in Afghanistan, U.K. lead­ers and troop­ers are again mak­ing an exten­sive con­tri­bu­tion to the effort to achieve our com­mon goals there,” the gen­er­al told the assem­bly.

“It’s clear that, as was the case in Iraq, the scale of the British con­tri­bu­tion in Afghanistan is such that the coali­tion can­not suc­ceed with­out you,” he said. Petraeus acknowl­edged “tough choic­es” fac­ing Great Britain about how to use its resources in light of bud­get deficits.

“We in the Unit­ed States face sim­i­lar chal­lenges,” the gen­er­al said. “But … we, togeth­er, have con­sid­er­able mutu­al objec­tives in remain­ing engaged in the Cent­com area of respon­si­bil­i­ty, where the inter­ests we share and the com­mon threats we face are sig­nif­i­cant.”

Petraeus point­ed to the com­pre­hen­sive coali­tion effort that suc­ceed­ed in Iraq as a mod­el of what’s required in Afghanistan.

Not­ing his pre­vi­ous 19-plus-month tour of duty as the com­man­der of Multi­na­tion­al Force Iraq, Petraeus laud­ed the “true team effort” embraced by mil­i­tary mem­bers, civil­ians, coali­tion part­ners and Iraqis. Petraeus said he and then-Ambas­sador Ryan Crock­er con­sis­tent­ly strived to deliv­er a mes­sage of “unshak­able com­mit­ment to team­work at the top” that per­me­at­ed MNFI.

Petraeus under­scored coali­tion con­tri­bu­tions in Iraq, par­tic­u­lar­ly those pro­vid­ed by Great Britain. “Sim­ply put, what we achieved in Iraq could not have been done with­out our U.K. part­ners,” he said.

That same uni­ty of effort is crit­i­cal in Afghanistan, Petraeus said, where the mis­sion requires “mul­ti­lat­er­al coali­tions employ­ing not just mil­i­tary tools, but rather, a full spec­trum of mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties employed in car­ry­ing out com­pre­hen­sive, whole-of-gov­ern­ment approach­es.”

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates shared a sim­i­lar mes­sage with British lead­ers dur­ing his vis­it to Lon­don ear­li­er this week, where he rec­og­nized the con­tri­bu­tions and sac­ri­fices Great Britain is mak­ing in Afghanistan.

“Right now, 9,500 British troops are demon­strat­ing incred­i­ble courage on the bat­tle­fields of south­ern Afghanistan,” Gates said dur­ing a June 8 news con­fer­ence with his British coun­ter­part, Liam Fox.

“I told Dr. Fox how much we in Amer­i­ca appre­ci­ate his nation’s lead­er­ship in this effort and offered my con­do­lences for the near­ly 300 British troops that have been lost in the con­flict, includ­ing sev­er­al just this week,” Gates said.

“To para­phrase a poet from the Great War,” he con­tin­ued, “British fight­ing men and women have more than done their bit and have had their share.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)