With popular support for America's involvement in the war in Afghanistan at a record low, word comes that Gen. David Petraeus will launch a media blitz to shore up public confidence in the war over which he recently assumed command.
On Sunday, NBC 'Meet the Press' host David Gregory announced that he would be traveling to Afghanistan this week to conduct an exclusive interview with Petraeus, discussing "military strategy and the overall outlook for the nearly 9 year war." But that's just the beginning.
Politico's Mike Allen reported on Monday:
After seven silent weeks, Gen. David Petraeus begins aggressive messaging on Afghanistan... a spate of appearances that are being spread out over three weeks so Americans will be more likely to hear his message, even during the August doldrums. This week, Petraeus will begin communicating with the Afghan people. Then after "Meet," the general will do the BBC later that week. The following week, Petraeus has sit-downs with "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, then Fox News' Jennifer Griffin, who's returning from breast-cancer treatment. At month's end, George Stephanopoulos will take "Good Morning America" on the road to see the general. Major U.S. and European print and radio outlets will be sprinkled in. Then in the weeks that follow, the general plans to keep up a strong battle rhythm of engaging with the media and making his case.
Last week, Petraeus issued updated rules of battle for Afghanistan, "repeating his predecessor's curbs on use of air power and heavy weapons when civilians are at risk but stressing the right of troops to defend themselves," the AP reported.
The new guidance comes after widespread complaints from troops that rules laid down by former commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal were putting them in danger and handing the advantage to the Taliban.
There had been speculation that Gen. David Petraeus - who took over from McChrystal a month ago - might ease the rules. But Petraeus, like McChrystal, emphasized that protecting the Afghan people was the top priority in the war.
"We must continue - indeed, redouble - our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum," Petraeus wrote in the document released by the NATO command Wednesday. Some sections were not released for security reasons, the command said.