Friday, July 3, 2009

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U.S. Central Command head visiting Calgary Stampede

Updated Thu. Jul. 2 2009 9:39 PM ET

The Canadian Press

CALGARY -- The soldier who oversees U.S. forces in Afghanistan is giving Canada's top soldier an operational briefing while on what is described as a social visit to the Calgary Stampede.

In this case, R and R stands for rest and reconaissance.

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, is best known for co-ordinating the troop surge in Iraq that is credited with significantly reducing violence there.

He took responsibility late last year for American forces in Afghanistan.

His visit to Calgary comes as nearly 4,000 U.S. marines and 650 Afghan troops launched a massive offensive in Helmand province -- the opening phase of U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan

He was invited to Calgary by Gen. Walter Natynczyk, who took over last year as Canada's Chief of Defence Staff.

"We are going to sit down and talk obviously about all that's going on in Central Command area of responsibility, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a host of other places," Petraeus said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"There's a lot going on out there and we'll compare notes on all that but obviously, we're also here for the Stampede. It's great being one of those wearing a white hat," he chuckled.

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier presented Petraeus with a white Smithbilt cowboy hat, a traditional honour for dignitaries and special guests to the city. (read more here)

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