Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s interview with CBS News

(CBS) As the news from Afghanistan moves to the front pages of Americans' newspapers, the general tasked with turning things around there tells 60 Minutes that the spread of the violence in Afghanistan was more than he expected.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s interview with CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin will be broadcast on the 42nd season premiere of 60 Minutes this Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Martin spent a week speaking to the general in Kabul and following him on his daily mission overseeing the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Asked if things are better or worse than he expected since his arrival a few months ago, the general replies, "They're probably a little worse. I think that in some areas that the breadth of the violence, the geographic spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered."

The increased violence has resulted in 265 civilians killed in U.S. or coalition action in the past 12 months the general says, a situation that must stop if victory is to be attained.

"This civilian casualty issue is much more important than I even realized. It is literally how we lose the war, or in many ways how we win it," McChrystal explained.

The general has halted many operations aimed too close to civilians, even if the target area was the source of enemy fire. He believes it's more important to protect civilians than kill Taliban or Qaeda fighters, because not having the support of the Afghan people is a risk he cannot afford.

"If people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically," he tells Martin.

Relying on overwhelming U.S. firepower is not the way to proceed in Afghanistan says McChrystal.

"You know, the favorite saying…'To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.' We can't walk with only a hammer in our hands," says McChrystal.


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