Governor Deval Patrick, in Afghanistan as part of his ongoing visit to troops in the Middle East, today received a briefing on the war in Afghanistan from General David Petraeus and US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the governor told reporters in a conference call just after noon.
The officials told the governor that they saw signs of success in a recent Kabul conference attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterparts, but managed largely by Afghan forces and civilian authorities, Patrick said.
"I think that he (Petraeus) feels very good about the progress that has been made largely through the special operations, special forces, in striking the leadership of the Taliban," Patrick said.
The governor praised what he said is an emphasis on social and economic justice, such as building schools and infrastructure and supporting small businesses in Afghanistan.
"It's about reaching those folks whose allegiance to the Taliban is not so much ideological as it is economic," said Patrick. "Itís a job for them, itís a connection for them. I can imagine that that second order of business is a bigger challenge and it means a commitment over time."
Patrick is traveling with a contingent of four other governors -- Jim Douglas of Vermont, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jay Nixon of Missouri -- and he said their focus has been meeting with service men and women from their states. For every hour on their trip spent in official briefings, the governors spent several hours with guardsmen and women, sitting in the dining halls with troops and examining equipment and vehicles on the ground, Patrick said.
Patrick said he had a chance to visit with some of the wounded soldiers waiting to be shipped out from the hospital, and met three men who received Purple Hearts Thursday night.
"It continues to be a very enriching and informative visit, and above all, I have appreciated so much the opportunity to tell our own Massachusetts soldiers and airmen how much we appreciate what they are doing on our behalf and that we are thinking about them back home," Patrick said.
Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at email@example.com
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