Friday, April 10, 2009

Top U.S. General in Afghanistan apologizes for past mistakes and says he is now studying the Quran!

This is absolutely unbelievable. General McKiernan must be following an order from Obama, because if he isn't, he should be removed immediately.

This apologizing phenomena has got to stop. This just continues the attitude of concession, surrender and appeasement towards Islamic demands. Our brave soldiers cannot fight under this kind of situation. The President has tied one of their arms behind their back. Our suicidal rules of engagement have just gotten worse.
Rees

Top US General Meets Tribes Ahead of Afghan Surge

from The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 10, 2009
Filed at 7:39 a.m. ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- The top U.S. general in Afghanistan reached out to influential Afghan tribesmen in regions where U.S. troops will soon deploy, apologizing for past mistakes and saying he is now studying the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

Gen. David McKiernan met with villagers in Helmand and Kandahar -- two of Afghanistan's most violent provinces -- in an attempt to foster good will ahead of the U.S. troop surge that will send 21,000 more forces here this summer to stem an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency.

McKiernan said he wanted to show respect to tribal elders by traveling to Kandahar on Wednesday to explain some of the mistakes U.S. forces have made in the past -- such as arresting people based on information taken from one side in a tribal fight, or killing civilians during operations.

''I'm trying to connect to the local population in a bottom-up way and try to explain what the new U.S. strategy means and why they're going to see an increased force presence where they live,'' McKiernan said during the trip to Kandahar aboard the seven passenger jet he flies in.

McKiernan for the first time disclosed precise locations where the combat troops arriving this summer will deploy. The 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, expected to arrive in May or June, will deploy in eastern Farah province and from Lashkar Gah -- the capital of Helmand province, the world's largest opium producing region -- south toward Garmser.

An Army Stryker brigade from Fort Lewis in Washington state expected in July and August will deploy in Kandahar province, in the eastern districts around Spin Boldak and northern regions around Arghandab, Khakrez and Shah Wali Kot, he said.

Some 250 tribesmen traveled to a sparkling new Afghan army base just outside the main NATO base in Kandahar for two separates sessions with the four-star general on Wednesday.

McKiernan explained to elders from Spin Boldak how the U.S. is training the Afghan army and police so that U.S. troops can one day leave, apologized for past mistakes committed by U.S. soldiers and said the Iraq war had diverted resources from Afghanistan that were needed to fight the Taliban.

''Until (militant) safe havens are eliminated across the border in Pakistan, there cannot be peace in Afghanistan,'' he said, generating enthusiastic applause from the elders.

U.S. and Afghan officials say that Taliban militants use lawless areas in northwest Pakistan as safehavens to train, arm and rest. Insurgents then travel back over the Afghan-Pakistan border to launch attacks.

Afterward, several Afghan elders spoke. One picked up on McKiernan's Pakistan message.

''When you come here and the Taliban is pushed out, why doesn't the violence stop? Destroy their safe havens,'' the Afghan said.

McKiernan told the Afghans that President Barack Obama's new strategy is to combat instability in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region as a whole. He said that in the future, Afghan forces will enter villagers' homes if necessary, a pledge that brought another round of applause. He then said he was studying the Muslim holy book.

''I'm reading a very good book now about this part of the world. It's written in English, but it's all about you -- it's the Quran,'' McKiernan said to applause. Moments later an Afghan man stood up and gave McKiernan a bright purple, red and green cloth in which to wrap the translated version of holy book.

Government leaders from Kandahar province were not invited to the meeting. McKiernan said he wanted to talk straight to the tribal leaders in the hope their words weren't influenced by the presence of possibly corrupt government officials. Government leaders were invited to a similar session in Helmand last week.

During a second session with Afghans from Arghandab, Khakrez and Shah Wali Kot, which has seen more violence than the Spin Boldak region, McKiernan faced a tougher audience.

No one applauded during his speech. Afterward, Haji Saran Wal praised McKiernan for admitting past U.S. mistakes and for saying the Iraq war depleted resources. Then he asked McKiernan to prohibit house searches by U.S. forces.

Back in Kabul, while driving to NATO's headquarters, McKiernan called the day ''pretty positive.''

''I think it was a good give-and-take session,'' he said.


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