U.S. General uses soccer to sell Afghan mission to Europeans

February 10, 2008

Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s supreme allied commander, Europe, surprised American reporters by using soccer to explain his problems in Afghanistan.

Craddock,  a four-star U.S. Army general, says he does not have as many troops as he needs and too many nations place restrictions on how their soldiers can operate.

“It’s kind of like we’re a soccer team that’s two players short and I can’t move the defenders of midfield to attack and I can’t move the forwards back to defend,” he told members of the Pentagon press corps travelling with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

One American reporter joked he was impressed the Belgium-based commander had been in Europe so long that he could use soccer metaphors.

But Craddock felt the analogy came in handy in explaining his problems to European governments.

“They understand that here. They don’t understand football,” he said, referring to the American game.

As the travelling Pentagon press this time contains a Scotsman and a French reporter, his point was not entirely lost on his audience on Sunday.

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Perhaps the general should rebase to the Netherlands — he seems to be groping towards the notion of ‘total football’ perfected by the Dutch in the ’70s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Footb all

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