Brussels: US General David Petraeus, the new
Afghan war commander, pledged on Thursday to give his forces the
right firepower to fight the Taliban but insisted that sparing
civilian lives remained a priority.
Petraeus was at NATO headquarters in Brussels to brief
allies before taking up his post in Afghanistan, where a new
bout of fighting left at least 31 Taliban insurgents dead in
the southern province of Helmand.
The general admitted that troops were unhappy with the
rules of engagement, which limit air strikes and artillery and
mortar fire to prevent civilian
casualties, but he denied that he planned to change them.
"There are concerns among the ranks of some of our troops
on the ground that some of the processes have become a bit too
bureaucratic," he told a news conference after meeting with
"I have a moral imperative as a commander... to bring all
force that is available to bear when our troopers, and by the
way our Afghan partners, are in a tough position," Petraeus
But the commander said there was "no intent to change"
the rules, which are part of a troop surge strategy launched
by the United States in a bid to beat back a resurgent Taliban
"In a counter-insurgency the human terrain is the
decisive terrain and therefore you must do everything humanly
possible to protect the population and indeed again to reduce
the loss of innocent civilian life," he said.