June 25th, 2010
08:55 AM ET

AM Security Brief

Now that the dust is settling over General Petraeus’ unexpected accession to the top military role in Afghanistan, attention is turning to what he may be able to achieve – and when.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates tempered expectations Thursday. “We're not asking for victory by December or by July of 2011,” he told a news conference at the Pentagon. “We're not asking that Afghanistan be stabilized 13 months from now. What we are asking is that by December we have enough evidence to demonstrate, if you will, the proof of concept, that the approach that we're taking is showing progress.”

CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen writes of the challenges facing General Petraeus in his new role:

“Petraeus must convince all sorts of constituencies, from the Afghan people, to the Pakistani military and political establishment, to the White House, to the American public, that some plausible progress is being made; that the Americans are not going to "cut and run" before a semi-stable Afghan government and military are in place. And he must do that all on a timetable in which some kind of American drawdown begins in July 2011.”

One thing President Obama will demand is unity of purpose from his team, a requirement stressed by the man who was ambassador in Baghdad when General Petraeus was leading the military surge in Iraq. Zalmay Khalilzad told NPR Friday: “The importance of one mission, one team cannot be overemphasized in the counterinsurgency operations.”

CNN’s Mike Mount – in a profile today – looks at General Petraeus’ leadership style. His former spokesman, Steven Boylan, says of his old boss: "He likes getting everyone out of their comfort zones, because he believes that is the best way to get good ideas and more diverse thoughts and potential solutions to problems.”


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