JUST hours before President Obama gave his State of the Union address, his commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, offered what amounted to his own state of the war address, one noticeably more upbeat than a White House assessment issued late last year. As per The New York Times, the generals assessment, in the form of a letter to troops posted on the NATO Web site, outlined a fight in which troops and the military machine here had gained the edge or was on the cusp of doing so on every front. He described victory as attainable only through a vast, coordinated effort to bring Afghanistan security, good governance and economic development. Ensuring that Al Qaeda never again uses Afghanistan as a haven requires that we help Afghanistan develop the ability to secure and govern itself, the letter states. This in turn requires the conduct of a comprehensive civil-military campaign.Over all, his assessment strikes a more bullish tone than the White House report on the war, issued in the latter half of December, which cautiously described military gains and warned that they were fragile and reversible. General Petraeus war assessment focuses primarily on the positive trends on the military side, where there have been far more gains than in the area of governance or economic development. He says that the troops have halted a downward security spiral in much of the country and points specifically to Kabul Province, the area around the capital, where there have been few violent events over the last year. He also lauds military victories in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and says that NATO and Afghan forces have inflicted enormous losses on mid-level Taliban and Haqqani Network leaders throughout the country and took away some of their most important safe havens. And he gives a nod to areas where security has declined - in the north and northeast - saying that those insurgent advances must be reversed.