Today ISAF held a dignified Assumption of Command Ceremony to formally recognize General David H. Petraeus as the new commander. Most interesting was the opening with prayers from a Muslim cleric who sang and then from a pastor who delivered a traditional Christian innvocation. It was a bright and hot day that went as planned – no attacks or attemts to steal the moment as one might suspect the insurgents would try (despite continuing threats). But the Afghan lead and executed security in Kabul is actually very good.
It was also instructive to listen to the General’s speech to see a master communicator and messenger at work. General Petraeus has been very focused and engaged concerning strategic communication. While he has affirmed that the ISAF strategy and plan will remain the same, I believe he will take certain areas, like public affairs, to a new and improved level.
“As President Obama and NATO Secretary General Rasmussen have noted, my assumption of command represents a change in personnel, not a change in policy or strategy,” Petraeus said. “To be sure, I will, as any new commander should, together with ISAF, Afghan, and diplomatic partners, examine our civil-military effort to determine where refinements might be needed.”
“I feel privileged to be joining this critical effort at such a pivotal time,” Petraeus said. “We are engaged in a tough fight. After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment. We must demonstrate to the Afghan people, and to the world, that Al Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which they can launch attacks on the Afghan people and on freedom-loving nations around the world. And with the surge in ISAF forces and the growth of our Afghan partners, we have a new opportunity to do just that. ” – General David Petraeus, 4 July 2010