Monday, May 11, 2009

Wire: Obama's Afghanistan War "Has Gone Quickly Downhill"

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2009 -- Newswires reported this evening that President Barack Obama fired the top U.S. general in Afghanistan on Monday, replacing him with a former special forces commander in a quest for a more unconventional approach in a war that has gone quickly downhill.

With the Taliban resurgent, Obama decided to switch from Gen. David McKiernan to Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

McKiernan, on the job for less than a year, has repeatedly pressed for more forces. Although Obama has approved more than 21,000 additional troops this year, he has warned that the war will not be won by military means.

AP reported that a new team of commanders will now be charged with applying Obama's strategy for challenging an increasingly brutal insurgency. Obama's Afghan strategy, yet to be fully defined, is said to rely on the kind of special forces and counterinsurgency tactics McChrystal has commanded in the past.

Obama's new plan would hinge success in the seven-year-old war to political and other conditions across the border in Pakistan, AP said.

AP noted the following details:
McChrystal is a former special forces chief credited with nabbing one of the most-wanted fugitives in Iraq. Taking a newly created No. 2 slot under his command will be Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, a veteran of the Afghanistan fight who has been Gates' military shadow, the top uniformed aide who travels with him everywhere.

By year's end, the United States will have more than 68,000 troops in the sprawling country — about double the total at the end of Bush's presidency but still far fewer than the 130,000 still in Iraq.

[. . .]

Although Obama had pledged to add forces in Afghanistan while shutting down the Iraq war, his new administration has sought firmer control over the pace and scope of any new deployments. Gates and Mullen have both warned Obama that a very large influx of U.S. troops would be self-defeating.

Asked if McKiernan's resignation would end his military career, Gates said, "Probably." But he praised the general's long service, and when pressed to name anything McKiernan had failed to do, Gates demurred.

"Nothing went wrong, and there was nothing specific," he said.
In June 2006 Bush congratulated McChrystal for his role in the operation that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. As head of the special operations command, McChrystal's forces included the Army's clandestine counterterrorism unit, Delta Force, AP said.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: US fires top general in Afghanistan as war worsens

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