Kabul: US Senator John McCain said today
that incoming commander General David Petraeus could tweak
strategy in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan, following
two days of talks and battlefield tours.
The former US presidential candidate said the new
commander of US and NATO forces indicated there could be
adjustments to a war plan seen by many analysts as bogged down
to the Taliban`s advantage.
"General Petraeus is reviewing the entire rules of
engagement and probably there will be some tweaking. We got
that impression from him," McCain told reporters in a press
conference at a Kabul airport.
Petraeus arrived in Kabul on Friday to take over NATO`s
47-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from
US General Stanley McChrystal, sacked last month by President
Barack Obama for insubordination.
Troops have complained that McChrystal`s "courageous
restraint" rule, aimed at minimising civilian casualties,
prevents them from properly defending themselves -- thus
contributing to a spike in military casualties.
But the veteran Republican senator said he believed the
counter-insurgency would succeed following the deployment of
thousands more troops to the Taliban heartland of Kandahar.
"The counter-insurgency is just beginning to succeed. We
do have the right strategy in Kandahar. Kandahar is the key to
a successful strategy, but I believe it is just beginning,"
"There will be more difficult times, and in the short
term casualties will go up," he added.
A total of 102 foreign soldiers died in June, almost
triple the May toll and far outstripping the previous highest
monthly figure of 77 in August.
McCain visited Afghanistan with fellow Senators Lindsey
Graham and Joe Lieberman, who all sit on the influential US
Armed Services Committee.
The lawmakers said they discussed Kandahar, corruption
and governance issues with Afghan President Hamid Karzai over
They also used the press conference to reiterate
criticism of the July 2011 target to begin pulling US troops
out of Afghanistan, saying that setting a firm date for
withdrawal would raise questions about US commitment.