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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Stephen Biddle
The fall of David H. Petraeus as the nation's spy chief does not erase his long record as a military commander who turned the tide of the war in Iraq and set up new tactics for killing Islamic terrorists, his friends and military observers say.
The 2-year-old U.S. practice of mixing American and Afghan forces 24 hours a day has produced cultural clashes that have led to an increase of "green-on-blue" slayings of U.S. troops in which Afghan security personnel turn their weapons on their trainers, says an adviser to U.S. commanders and policymakers.
The outside advisers who worked to persuade President Bush in 2006 to send a "surge" of reinforcement troops to Iraq now fear their efforts are on the verge of being erased.
U.S. Marines will march out of Afghanistan by the thousands next year, winding down combat in the Taliban heartland and testing the U.S. view that Afghan forces are capable of leading the fight against a battered but not yet beaten insurgency in the country's southwestern reaches, senior U.S. military officers say.
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's tenacious hold on power forced NATO on Wednesday to extend its mission to protect civilians and caused consternation on Capitol Hill over U.S. involvement in the North African conflict.
The Obama administration could be overstating what U.S. diplomats can do to contain Iraq's ethnic and sectarian tensions without U.S. military forces, a State Department audit concluded Tuesday, raising fresh concerns about the planned pullout of American troops next year.
The U.S. military is starting to see signs that the troop surge in Afghanistan is working on a timetable similar to the Iraq reinforcement campaign in 2007, according to an outside adviser and military sources.
The war in Afghanistan enters its 10th year Thursday with key players hedging their bets, uncertain whether the Obama administration is prepared to stay for the long haul, move quickly to exit an increasingly unpopular conflict, or do something in between.
A weekend media blitz by the Army's public relations master sent a clear message: It's not time to hit the panic button in Afghanistan, but success in the nearly 9-year-old war won't come quickly.
Within the U.S. military's rank and file, there are growing doubts about winning in Afghanistan, a mood that contradicts upbeat war reports delivered to Congress last week by the top commander and officials.
"Just about everyone regards him as political," said Stephen Biddle, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University. "He's obviously very politically sophisticated, as general officers go."
Mr. Biddle said Mr. Petraeus set another standard, this one in the way a commander attacks an insurgency.