The new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan called today for unity between the civilian and military efforts in the Afghan war.
General David Petraeus told a crowd of about 1,700 Afghan, American, and international guests at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that cooperation between the military and civilian sides "is not optional."
"This is a tough mission; there is nothing easy about it," he said. "But working together, we can achieve progress and we can achieve our mutual objectives."
Petraeus spoke as he made his first public appearence since arriving in the Afghan capital on July 2.
He landed a day after his appointment was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and just hours after the U.S. House of Representatives approved $33 billion in funding for a troop surge he hopes will turn the tide of the war. An amendment demanding an exit timetable from Afghanistan failed, but got 162 votes -- the biggest antiwar vote in the House on Afghanistan to date.
He is taking over from the dismissed U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, who publicly disparaged the level of cooperation between U.S. civilian and military leaders in Afghanistan in interviews printed in an American magazine.
A formal change-of-command ceremony will be held on July 4.
The Taliban showed on July 2 just how capable they are of operating outside their traditional strongholds by launching a daring commando-style raid on the office of an American company that provides logistical support for U.S. government aid in relatively peaceful Kunduz, in the north.
A Briton, German, Filipino, and two Afghans were killed in the pre-dawn attack, provincial officials said, as well as the six insurgents who mounted the raid.
Also on July 2, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that Petraeus now commands said two service members had died after separate insurgent attacks in the south and east.
compiled from agency reports