Petraeus: Afghanistan war not close to end

NASHVILLE, (UPI) — The U.S. war in Afghanistan isn’t close to ending, Army Gen. David Petraeus said.
It’s going to be hard. It is hard all the time, Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, told The (Nashville) Tennessean Monday. When people ask me if I am optimistic or pessimistic, I tell them I am realistic.
The general, in town for a speech at Vanderbilt University, said Americans must remember why the country is in Afghanistan. We cannot allow that country to again become a safe haven for trans-national extremists, he said.
He said Afghanistan is indisputably where the 9/11 attacks were planned.
Petraeus delivered his speech as protesters outside Vanderbilt Student Center called for an end to the war, and he answered some questions submitted in advance by an audience including students, faculty and members of Congress.
Speaking of the campaign in Afghanistan, he said: I think if one is realistic, you have to realize that we have to remain engaged in these various endeavors … but with a goal of reducing our levels of forces over time. … The threat of trans-national extremism is one that we’ll be seeing for the foreseeable future.
Petraeus serves as commander of more than 200,000 men and women deployed in the Central Command. More than 4,200 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and more than 1,000 in Afghanistan.