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Deputy commander: No major changes to battle tactics in Afghanistan

By Mike Mount, CNN Senior Pentagon Producer
  • Lt. Gen. Rodriguez: Only "small adjustments" made to rules of engagement
  • Rules had been put in place to try to reduce the number of civilian casualties
  • Gen. Petraeus has noted a "moral obligation" to support troops in combat
  • Rodriguez says the movement of British troops was not a reaction to casualties

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. military does not expect any major changes for now in the way troops operate on the battlefield in Afghanistan, according to the deputy commander of U.S. troops there.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has not made any significant changes to rules of engagement that are designed to reduce civilian casualties, but has been making "small adjustments."

Petraeus is in the process of reviewing the battlefield rules, including ground combat tactics and guidelines on aerial bombing.

Recently replaced commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal installed the rules because the high number of civilians being killed as a result of raids and airstrikes had increasingly spurred the ire of the Afghan government and citizens.

Noting concerns among the troops that the rules of engagement had the potential to put them in danger, Petraeus has said there is a "moral obligation" to support troops in combat situations where injury or life is threatened.

Rodriguez, who is also the day-to-day operations commander for U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, also answered questions about the announcement of the British troop move from the restive Sangin region in the southern Helmand province.

He said it was designed to better organize forces in the region and denied it was an effort on the part of the United States to reduce the heavy casualties British troops have taken there.

"The British have made a significant commitment to the contribution of the forces in Task Force Helmand, and they're going to continue to do that for several years," Rodriguez said.