23 Jun 10. The Washington Post reported that President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, moving quickly to restore the unity of his administration’s war effort after the general and his top aides disparaged civilian leaders in an explosive magazine article. Obama named Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and currently the head of the U.S. Central Command, to replace McChrystal and urged the Senate to confirm him promptly. But Obama reaffirmed in blunt terms the counterinsurgency strategy he ordered last December and said that “war is bigger than any one man or woman.” A senior military official said it has not yet been determined whether Petraeus’s move to take charge in Afghanistan will be permanent. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden after a 90-minute meeting with his national security team in the Situation Room, Obama indicated that he had effectively lost confidence in McChrystal’s ability to implement the surge in forces that Obama approved at McChrystal’s request late last year.
“Today I accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan,” Obama said in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden. “I did so with considerable regret but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military and for the country.”
Obama said he did not make his decision based on any policy differences with McChrystal or “out of any sense of personal insult.”
But he said McChrystal’s conduct “does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general” and that it “undermines” the principle of civilian control over the military.
Obama said he concluded that the United States and its allies could not “sustain that unity of effort . . . without making this change.”
It was the second time that Obama has fired his top Afghanistan commander as he searches for a way to bring the nearly nine-year-old war to a successful conclusion. He had turned to McChrystal as a replacement for Gen. David McKiernan last year, but he said Wednesday that the contemptuous comments in Rolling Stone magazine had forced another change in leadership. The president informed McChrystal of his decision in a brief, 30-minute face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office. McChrystal quickly left the White House after the meeting, leading to speculation that he would not be returning for the national security team conference, which he previously had been scheduled to attend. But no announcement was made for several hours, as Obama conferred with the other military and civilian leaders who will continue to lead the war effort.
The FT reported that this week’s storm over Gen Stanley McChrystal, who was sacked on Wednesday, has thrown new light on one of the biggest cracks in Barack Obama’s administration.
While Washington prides itself on the cohesion and collegiality of its national security team, on the single biggest national security issue – Afghanistan – the impression given is very different. Ironically, the divisions are less between the biggest players in the US than among thosecharged with implementing the policy on the ground. Robert Gates, defence secretary, and Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, have forged an enduring alliance, but General McChrystal, Karl Eikenberry, ambassador to Kabul, and Richard Holbrooke, the special representative to the region, have experienced far more rocky relations.
“If you think any group of strong effective policymakers are going to all play along nicely together, that might be suitable social instruction for a kindergarten, but not in these circumstances,” says Antony Cordesman, a prominent Washington analyst and former adviser to Gen McChrystal.
Against a backdrop of rising scepticism in the US, Mr Cordesman says the administration has made the first genuine effort to bring together al