Petraeus: Building an army in the air, under fire
General David Petraeus, who is giving evidence to senators on the Hill who are looking to confirm his appointment as the top US military commander in Afghanistan, has said he will look "very hard" at the rules of engagement.
It is a big issue in the military - many soldiers feel the current rules, which are designed to prevent the loss of civilian life, put them at risk and allow the enemy to escape.
The most striking phrase in his testimony so far has been: "Helping to train and equip host nation forces in the midst of an insurgency is akin to building an advanced aircraft while it is in flight, while it is being designed, and while it is being shot at. There is nothing easy about it."
I suppose the trouble with this analogy is that it is not merely difficult. It is plainly impossible. I am sure the general did not mean us to draw this conclusion, but it is the obvious one.