The leader of the US. Central Command says an Iraq-style surge won't work in Afghanistan, saying it will get worse there before it gets better. General David Petraeus spoke at Goodwin College in East Hartford for a forum sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut.
The school sold out all 850 seats in the auditorium, but the discussion with the most powerful general in the world was intimate for audience members.
"No country in the region is completely safe from the threat of extremism," says the General, telling the audience early-on that they were in for a serious conversation about what's going on in the Middle East, including the war in Iraq.
"In Iraq we find ourselves in a much better position than we were 2 years ago. Indeed violence levels in Iraq have been reduced substantially," the General said.
"He brought the feeling of comfort to know what's going on. So many questions being asking and he answered them honestly," said Allen Bass a student at Goodwin College.
A large part of the forum was questions from the audience. One that repeated itself is the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and whether the military should reach out to extremists the way it did in Iraq. The answer from Petreaus is yes.
"It's going to be difficult, the strategy is homegrown where it's intergration and there will be successes, but also challenges," says Samantha Forbes of the World Affairs Council.
Either way it works out overseas, those listening here said knowing what's going on gives them a renewed sense of hope.
"Everybody's in this together, so that brings Connecticut closer to where we're going," says Shariq Iqbal from Hartford.
The General also thanked Connecticut military members and their families for enduring long periods of separation during the war.