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.
RELATED: Top US commander slams Obama Obama: McChrystal showed poor judgment
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.”
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
Obama hit several gracious notes about McChrystal and
his service, saying that he had made the decision to sack him “with considerable
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
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
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
possible from the firestorm.
Petraeus, who attended a formal Afghanistan
war meeting at the White House Wednesday, has been overseeing the wars
Afghanistan and Iraq as head of US Central Command.
Petraeus is the
nation’s bestknown military man, having risen to prominence as the
turned around the Iraq war in 2007.
The Afghanistan job is actually a
step down from his current post.