Video: Petraeus marks July 4 with troops in Afghanistan‎

  1. Closed captioning of: Petraeus marks July 4 with troops in Afghanistan‎

    >>> overseas today general david petraeus spent his last fourth of july as commander of the u.s. forces in afghanistan . he met with american troops in the war zone , and just two weeks before heading home to take on his new job as cia director , he spoke one on one with nbc about america's mission.

    >> happy fourth of july to all of you.

    >> reporter: it's his eighth fourth of july in a combat zone , but the last in uniform for general david petraeus . he spent the day visiting some of the thousands of u.s. troops stationed in afghanistan . a farewell tour for a general many consider a rock star who found himself asking these tough as nails troops to just relax.

    >> the best way to relax is to put your hands in your pockets. that means you right there. go ahead. in fact, i'll put nem in my pockets, too, here.

    >> reporter: credited with helping turn the iraq war around, petraeus was tapped by president obama a year ago to do the same in afghanistan . he admits it it hasn't been easy.

    >> i never felt we could flip afghanistan the way we were able to flip iraq.

    >> reporter: a tough situation, but he insists not hopeless.

    >> the situation here is very hard without question. it has gotten progressively more difficult up until somewhere around last year last fall when we started taking back areas from the taliban that mattered enormously to them.

    >> reporter: he warns that gains here are fragile, but ever the good soldier he says he supports president obama 's plan to withdraw thousands of americans in the coming months.

    >> the commander in chief has made a decision, and we fully support that decision. we'll do everything we possibly can to implement it successfully. that's our job, and that's indeed what we will do.

    >> it was great just to have him show that, you know, he's still committed to what we're doing here even though we all know he's fixing to leave us.

    >> reporter: a popular, politically savvy, four- star general leaving afghanistan for washington, trading one tough job for

By
updated 7/4/2011 7:08:34 AM ET 2011-07-04T11:08:34

The outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan marked his last Fourth of July in uniform by speaking to American troops during a re-enlistment ceremony in the south of the country.

Gen. David Petraeus, who was recently confirmed as the next director of the CIA, told the 235 troops re-enlisting in Kandahar province that they have achieved progress on the battlefield but that "much work remains" to be done in Afghanistan.

"You raised your right hand and said 'Send me,' and today you raised your right hand again and said 'Send me again, if needed,'" he told the soldiers on America's 235th birthday.

"I cannot say how impressive your action is," he said. "It is the most meaningful display of patriotism possible."

Video: Petraeus marks July 4 with troops in Afghanistan‎ (on this page)

Petraeus will be replaced by U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen even as 33,000 U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, the start of President Barack Obama's promised withdrawal of all combat troops by 2014.

Later Monday, Petraeus is to speak at another re-enlistment ceremony at Bagram Air Field, just north of Kabul.

Drawdown an 'unnecessary risk'
Meanwhile, NATO said a service member was killed Monday in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan.

The death brings the number of NATO fatalities in Afghanistan this year to 271, three of them this month.

Image: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Cruz repeats the oath of re-affirmation and re-enlistment
Haraz N. Ghanbari  /  U.S. Navy via Getty Images
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Cruz repeats the oath of re-affirmation and re-enlistment during a ceremony conducting by U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in this handout photo provided by ISAF.

Also on Monday a member of the NATO-led international force fighting in Afghanistan went missing in the country's restive south and a search was under way, the NATO command said. U.K. officials said he was British.

One soldier from the foreign contingent in Afghanistan is currently believed in captivity.

Bowe Bergdahl, a 25-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan. He is believed held in Pakistan.

Story: McCain: Afghan drawdown unnecessary risk

On Sunday, three U.S. Senators visiting Afghanistan criticized the pace of withdrawal and expressed concerns that it may leave NATO with too few troops to deal a decisive blow to the insurgency.

"I believe that the planned drawdown is an unnecessary risk," John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said Sunday. McCain arrived in Afghanistan with Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham. McCain lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments