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Establishing Clear Goals May Prove Key to New Afghan-Pakistan Strategy

Gen. David Petraeus testified before a Senate panel Wednesday about the Obama administration's new strategy for the Afghan-Pakistan region. Sens. Carl Levin and Susan Collins give their perspectives.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Congress begins to look at the Obama administration's new plans for the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jeffrey Brown has that story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The Senate Armed Services Committee was the first congressional venue for the administration to test its new strategy. Senators had plenty of concerns, mixed with praise, for the administration's proposals.

    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put this series of questions to General David Petraeus, the regional commander, and Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy.

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.:

    From the 30,000-foot level here, General Petraeus, due to the success in Iraq, would you now consider Afghanistan the central front in the war on terror?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, commander, U.S. Central Command: I think you'd have to take Afghanistan and Pakistan together…

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

    OK, those two together.

  • GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS:

    … as a problem set, those two together, yes, sir.

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

    And you would consider that now the central front?

  • GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS:

    In fact, our focus is truly shifting to that front.

  • SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

    Is it fair to say, General Petraeus, that the American public can expect casualties to go up this year in Afghanistan, that there will be more fighting?

    And, Madam Secretary, can American taxpayers expect that the expense of operations in Afghanistan will dramatically increase in terms of dollars to be appropriated?

  • GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS:

    Senator, I think that Vice President Biden had it exactly right when, after his last trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said that this is going to get harder before it gets easier.

    MICHELE FLOURNOY, undersecretary of Defense for Policy: Senator, I would say, there will be higher human costs and higher financial costs to this effort, that those facts were considered very carefully before the president made his decision. And we're going forward with this strategy because we believe that it's vital to the safety and security of the American people.

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