“In Iran, the best recruiting officer for the U.S. Central Command is Iranian President Ahmadinejad.” So said Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command and therefore the top brass for U.S. military forces dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan and other terror-related hot spots.
Petraeus spoke to a combined luncheon session of the Atlanta Press Club and the Atlanta Commerce Club on Tuesday (1/19/2010), in a conversational setting that included audience questions and live cameras from Atlanta-based CNN and local stations. The speech came at a time when U.S.-led forces are having greater success in Iraq but still face challenges in Afghanistan and a growing terror threat in Yemen.
Petraeus noted that violence in Iraq has declined 90% in since the spring of 2007, from 220 attacks daily to 15-20. He called Al Qaida a “thinking enemy” and said “it takes a network to go after a network.” A breakthrough of intelligence in Iraq was due to a “fusion of cell sources … allies established fusion cells in every division headquarters” that led to a “substantial reduction” in civilian casualties.
He characterized the recent surge as “securing the population” and “sharing their risks” rather than confining military personnel and equipment solely to military bases. He said he learned from his time in Bosnia that “the power of many is better than the power of one.”
Petraeus was more tight-lipped when questioned about the use of unmanned drones. “We do not discuss the possible source of explosives in tribal areas,” he said. … “We can’t get enough drones … they are not that expensive” he added, and noted that it takes 150-200 people to keep a predator drone in the air for 24 hours.