Obama ditches U.S. commander in Afghanistan, replacement sees long conflict ahead

President Barack Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, left, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010

President Barack Obama meets with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, left, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, March 28, 2010

On Wednesday, June 23rd, President Obama announced the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. McChrystal was terminated due to comments reported in an article in Rolling Stone magazine, in which he and his staff insulted Obama’s National Security Advisor and Vice-President Joe Biden and even mocked the President himself.

Both the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai are said to have disagreed with the decision to fire McChrystal. Gates reportedly believed that McChrystal was key to American success in Afghanistan, while Karzai stated that McChrystal was “the best commander that NATO and coalition forces have had in Afghanistan over the past nine years.”

U.S. lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about the direction of the war. General David Petraeus, McChrystal’s replacement in Afghanistan, warned during his confirmation hearings that “it is going to be a number of years before Afghan forces can truly handle the security tasks in Afghanistan on their own,” adding that “July 2011 will mark the beginning of a process, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits and turns out the lights.”

Read more: Sheldon Alberts, “U.S. warned to prepare for long haul in Afghanistan,” Canwest News Service, 29 June 2010

Photo credit: White House photo by Pete Souza

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