August 1st, 2010
03:59 PM ET
12 years ago

Rules for Afghanistan: Fight Taliban, corruption, 'drink lots of tea'


Gen. David Petraeus, pictured here meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told troops in the war torn country that "The decisive terrain is the human terrain. The people are the center of gravity."
(Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

(CNN) - Fight the Taliban "relentlessly." Don't tolerate corruption. Drink "lots of tea" with the locals.

Those admonitions are among the two dozen guidelines for counterinsurgency warfare that Gen. David Petraeus issued to U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan on Sunday. In his first major public pronouncement since taking command in early July, Petraeus urged American troops and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to learn and adapt to the culture of Afghanistan while battling the Taliban insurgents and their allies.

"The decisive terrain is the human terrain," Petraeus wrote. "The people are the center of gravity. Only by providing them security and earning their trust and confidence can the Afghan government and ISAF prevail."

Petraeus led the 2007-2008 campaign to stabilize Iraq after years of insurgent and sectarian warfare following the U.S. invasion of 2003. Some of the steps he took there - ordering troops to work in closely with local allies in outposts close to the people, patrol on foot and without sunglasses and cultivate ties with the local population - are included in Sunday's four-page order.

"Earn the people's trust, talk to them, ask them questions and learn about their lives," he wrote. Coalition troops should be "a good guest," learn the local history and "make sure you have the full story."

"Don't be a pawn in someone else's game," he wrote. "Spend time, listen, consult and drink lots of tea."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • David Petraeus • issues
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    The General forgot to add "and swallow your pride". The U.S. is again supporting a totally corrupt government in a corrupt country while the citizens of Afghanistan think "They are no better than what we had and in many cases worse".

    Think of (as examples) South Vietnam's corrupt government that the US propped up and Haiti, where the US also supported a corrupt President. Think of the lives lost (both U.S., opposition and locals), the billions spent and the absolute lack of any change or discernable forward, progress for the people of those countries. Do you think Afghanistan is any different?

    August 1, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. thor

    Obama is the person that turned Afghanistan into an American led effort as to one led by NATO.Since he became president we have added nearly 60,000 more troops.All to keep a corrupt Karzai in power.I say it's time to bring our soldiers home, now.Waiting until next year means more will be coming home in body bags.

    August 1, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. dennis

    The fact is, as anyone who watches the daily US death reports on CNN, Obama is directing a disaster in Afganistan. Thus far in Obama's second year making command decisions we have had turn over in Military Leadership in Afganistan leaving a "who is really in charge here" attitude on the ground, implemented a highly restrictive engagment policy, tied the hands of our military men and women to be on the defensive, and not on the offensive. We have set a date for withdrawal and weakened the resolve of our fighters to even try to win, already decided to let the Taliban take over again, and begin anew to cut the heads off anyone who gets in their way, stone women to death, implement an "eye for an eye" religious government, and wage "gehad" against Christians the world over. The one good thing I heard today is John Kerry, who served 4 months in Vietnam, wants to go over there to negoitate with the Taliban. Maybe they'll give him the Daniel Pearl treatment.

    August 1, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. A Veteran

    What a waste of resources and most importantly precious young American lives. This war has been going on too long and can never be 'won". Do our politicans really really think that they will change anything in Afghanistan? When will they realize that nothing is going to change there. Their gov't will always be corrupt and the people will always hate Americans. (They do love us for the moment when we give them money). Our politicans just keep that war going to subsidize the fat cat American defense's called GOP job creation.

    Let's end this thing and bring our boys home. Enough is enough.

    August 1, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Lynn

    Flush the tea, take our surviving military and get the hell out.

    August 1, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. Wiener rant

    We need to send Congressman Wiener to Afghanistan. Maybe he can use his self-righteous, hypocritical, party/self-serving 'rage' to clean up their system–and get him far, far from ours. The Wiener rant will go down in history as the wimpiest, partisan attempt to demonize fellow americans for personal political gain.

    Wiener needs a new job. Vote the wimp out.

    August 1, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. clwyd

    Save yourself from all three. Get the heck out of a costly and useless war now!

    August 1, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. La Piovra

    Save your breath to cool your soup, guys. What matters is this: Learn pakhtunwali. Work from the ground up. Stop, look, listen at least three times as much as you speak or act, and don't display your marksmanship unless it is perfect (remember, these are the people who shot cigarettes out of Lord Mountbatten's mouth).

    August 1, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. JonDie

    Karzai is hopefully corrupt and incompetent. I am tired of being told that our soldiers have to stay in Afghanistan and die while Afghans do NOTHING.

    August 1, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. bill

    usually i agree with president obama.but this afganastan deal.he is just plain wrong.MR PRESIDENT WHAT IS WINNING IN AFGANASTAN.SUPPORT OUR TROOPS BRING THEM HOME.REBUILD AMERICA.

    August 1, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. Hugo

    and they left out the most important of all; order more body bags to send our young men home in...Vietnam revisited!

    August 1, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. ruty

    What short memories you people have, Obama voted against the war–remember???????????? I'll give you ONE guess whos shoulders this war rest on. I think he resides in TEXAS. He should be on the list of missing in action.

    August 1, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. Jersey George

    Voting for Obama was a huge mistake on my part. He's no better than Bush, still perpetuating 2 wars, not investigating the CIA leak case and the U.S. attorney firings, not prosecuting those responsible for torture policy, not closing GITMO, caving in on health care and financial reforms and accepting watered down versions, dishing his base while appeasing the Party of No (and nothing to show for it), etc, etc. He's being played as a sap and doesn't even recognize it. In retrospect, I wish Hillary Clinton got the presidential nomination, at least she has grit, strong progressive values, and leadership qualities. I'd like to see her challenge Obama for the 2012 democratic nomination. She'd get my vote!

    August 1, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |