Obama fires US Afghan commander

McChrystal forced to resign after criticizing US president.

June 23, 2010 22:03
2 minute read.
Obama and Petraeus

Obama and Petraeus 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

US President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top US commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, saying that his scathing published remarks about administration officials undermined civilian control of the military and eroded the needed trust on the president’s war team.

Obama named McChrystal’s direct boss – Gen. David Petraeus – to take over the troubled nine-year-old war in Afghanistan. He asked the Senate to confirm Petraeus for the new post “as swiftly as possible.”

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Top US commander slams Obama
Obama: McChrystal showed poor judgment

The president said he had not made the decision to accept McChrystal’s resignation over any disagreement in policy or “out of any sense of personal insult.”

Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm.

Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden, he said: “I believe it is the right decision for our national security.”

Obama hit several gracious notes about McChrystal and his service, saying that he had made the decision to sack him “with considerable regret.”

And yet, he said that the job in Afghanistan could not be done now under McChrystal’s leadership, asserting that the critical remarks from the general and his inner circle in the Rolling Stone magazine article displayed conduct that did not live up to the necessary standards for a command-level officer.

Obama seemed to suggest that McChrystal’s military career was over, including in his praise of the general that the nation should be grateful “for his remarkable career in uniform.”

McChrystal left the White House after his Oval Office call to accounts, and returned to his military quarters at Washington’s Fort McNair. A senior military official said there was no immediate decision about whether he would retire from the army, which has been his entire career. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

With the controversy refueling debate over his Afghanistan policy, Obama took pains to emphasize that the strategy was not shifting with McChrystal’s ouster.

“This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy,” he said.

Indeed, as Obama was speaking, McChrystal released a statement saying that he had resigned out of “a desire to see the mission succeed.”

“I strongly support the president’s strategy in Afghanistan,” McChrystal said.

With Washington abuzz, there had been a complete lockdown on information about the morning’s developments until just before Obama spoke.

But by pairing the decision on McChrystal’s departure with the name of his replacement, Obama is seeking to move on as quickly as possible from the firestorm.

Petraeus, who attended a formal Afghanistan war meeting at the White House Wednesday, has been overseeing the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq as head of US Central Command.

Petraeus is the nation’s bestknown military man, having risen to prominence as the commander who turned around the Iraq war in 2007.

The Afghanistan job is actually a step down from his current post.

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