U.K. Effort Critical in Afghanistan, Petraeus Tells Britons
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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.”