French general scolded for slamming US Afghan strategy

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A French general drew fire from his top brass on Friday for criticising the US strategy in Afghanistan, after the American commander there was sacked for a similar reason.

General Vincent Desportes was quoted by Le Monde newspaper as saying that "the situation is worse than ever" in Afghanistan, where US and other allied troops are battling the Taliban.

His comments were condemned by the French military's chief of staff Edouard Guillaud on Friday, who described them as "irresponsible" coming from a French general, while French troops were serving in the Afghanistan mission.

Desportes, who heads the elite French officers' training college CID, criticised as a half-measure US President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan and said the US strategy was not working.

His comments in Friday's edition of the paper came a week after Obama fired the United States' Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal for blunt talk of a lack of progress in the war and strong criticism of US security officials.

Desportes was quoted as saying: "The traditional counter-insurgency doctrine, as employed by McChrystal for a year, with restrained use of firepower, air and artillery attacks to reduce collateral damage, does not seem to be working."

Guillaud said on Europe 1 radio: "It is an ill-timed comment and I would call it irresponsible because it comes from someone who is on active service and who therefore has credibility."

He said he would summon Desportes "to come and explain himself."

© 2010 AFP

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