Petraeus: It'll get worse in Afghanistan before it gets better
Published: March 16, 2010
Just in case anyone on Capitol Hill was wildly optimistic about defeating the Taliban and Al Qaidia this year, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus did his best to burst that bubble before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier today.
"2010 will be a difficult year, full of tough fighting and perodic setbacks," he told the lawmakers in his testimony. "We're likely to see it get harder before it gets easier."
The CENCOM commander told the senators that they need to "manage expectations" when it comes to progress in Afghanistan this year, saying that progress will be "incremental and difficult." Success will eventually come once the new 30,000-plus troop force is in place this summer, but not without harsh fighting and more American casualties.
Petraeus' comments weren't a big surprise; Over the last eight years military commanders have walked a tight line between keeping Congress encouraged about progress in Afghanistan (and Iraq) without getting them too far ahead thinking about the final endgame.
In fact, Petraeus even downplayed success in Iraq during his testimony. Despite record lows in violence and no apparent obstacles towards a major drawdown of U.S. forces there this summer, Petraeus still called the country's stability "fragile and reversible, though less so than in the past."
That last phrase drew a smile and praise from Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who told the general things must be going very well there after all to get such emphatic support.
[PHOTO: Associated Press]