New US military command strategy

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New US military command strategy

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Petraeus appears to faint during Senate testimony

A spokesman says the top U.S. commander in the Mideast became dehydrated. He had been answering questions on plans to draw down troops in Afghanistan.
Los Angeles Times

June 16, 2010

Reporting from Washington

By Julian E. Barnes

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in the Mideast, appeared to faint Tuesday while testifying before the U.S. Senate.

As he was being questioned by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Petraeus slumped over, looked dazed and was assisted by aides who rushed to his side. A few seconds later, he quickly sat upright again and then left the room under his own power.

Twenty minutes later, after being examined by a doctor and having some food, a smiling Petraeus returned to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room.

A spokesman said Petraeus was dehydrated and became lightheaded. He had been traveling recently and was jet-lagged, the spokesman said.

Petraeus had been under intense questioning by McCain and the committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), on U.S. plans to begin drawing down forces in Afghanistan next year.

Both senators expressed concern that their aggressive questioning would be blamed.

"He hadn't had any breakfast. He works long hours," McCain said after the hearing, partly joking when he added, "It wasn't my question."

Returning to the witness table, Petraeus was greeted with a standing ovation.

Then Levin called off the session. Petraeus is scheduled to meet with the panel again Wednesday.

Last year, Petraeus received treatment for early-stage prostate cancer, therapy that he has said was successful. He has not been ill recently.

A fitness enthusiast, Petraeus prides himself on his endurance, not just at running but at challenges such as sitting through marathon congressional hearings. He sustained a broken pelvis in a parachute jump in 2000 and is said to suffer from back pain.

Times staff writer Janet Hook in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
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