Petraeus: Place Combat Posts as Close to Afghan Civilians as Possible

New Guidelines Admonish Troops to Be 'Good Guests'

New Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus issued a new three page document outlining his guidelines for combat troops’ behavior in Afghanistan, with the quote “be a good guest” looming large in early reports.

Gen. Petraeus was widely expected to break with the policies of Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the rules of engagement, paring away McChrystal’s restrictions on combat designed to limit the number of civilians killed in the conflict amid complaints that they were “harming morale.”

Today’s Petraeus document does not appear to directly address this issue, however it does have some recommendations which might raise a few eyebrows in that direction, for instance his proscription that troops should “position joint bases and combat posts as close” to civilian populations as possible.

The idea behind this is that if the troops live with the people they will develop better relationships with the civilian population. Yet with nine years of mistrust to combat and massive civilian tolls, it may be interpreted more as putting the civilian population in harms way by bringing the combat closer to their homes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.