Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.
That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country's Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops - those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).
Petraeus's remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states "al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan." Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown's troops.
Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states' permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, "one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.") 
NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world's only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.
In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that "It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy."
A week after Stanley McChrystal's resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan , an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy - unanimously - and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world's longest and largest-scale war.
He told Senate members on June 30 that "My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months."
A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama's proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus' commander-in-chief, was "one of urgency - not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off." Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a "rush to the exits" and that there "could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years." 
In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky - on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state - and insisted that "the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan...." 
To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to "operationalize" U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM "where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information." 
Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM's area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon's military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM's formal ambit.
In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland - covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) - to meet with the nation's Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that "in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland's ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.
"Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province."