Looks like General Petraeus is already taking care of business in Afghanistan.
KABUL, Afghanistan — America’s top diplomat in Kabul jokingly handed NATO’s new commander Gen. David Petraeus an access badge to the U.S. Embassy on Saturday, a symbolic gesture of a new partnership in the troubled U.S. management of the Afghan war.
The smiles and declarations of synergy came as Petraeus prepared to formally assume command on Sunday of a 130,000-strong international force at a time of rising casualties and growing doubt about how much can be achieved before July 2011 when President Barack Obama wants to begin withdrawing U.S. troops.
Petraeus called for troops and civilian staff employees to work together, saying: “In this important endeavor, cooperation is not optional.”
His predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was fired last month for intemperate remarks that he and his aides made to Rolling Stone magazine about Obama administration officials, mostly on the civilian side.
“Civilian and military, Afghanistan and international, we are part of one team with one mission,” Petraeus told about 1,700 invited guests, including Afghan government and military and police officials gathered at the U.S. Embassy for a pre-Fourth of July celebration marking American independence.
They were Petraeus’ first public comments since he arrived Friday night to take command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He said he would work to improve coordination between troops on the battlefield and civilians trying to bolster the Afghan government and improve the lives of the people.
His message to the Afghans in the audience: “Your success is our success.”
Petraeus, widely credited with turning around the U.S. war effort in Iraq, faces rising violence and growing doubts in Washington and other allied capitals about the effectiveness of the counterinsurgency strategy, which the general himself pioneered.
June was the deadliest month for the allied force since the war began in October 2001 with 102 deaths, more than half of them Americans. Britain’s Ministry of Defense reported that a Royal Marine was killed on Thursday in southern Afghanistan – the fifth international service member killed this month.