1. Welcome to CowboysZone!  Join us!  Come on!  You know you want to!

US fires top general in Afghanistan as war worsens

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by WoodysGirl, May 11, 2009.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

    67,130 Messages
    6,913 Likes Received
    By Pauline Jelinek And Anne Gearan, Associated Press Writers – 27 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the commander of the Afghanistan war Monday, saying the Obama administration needed "fresh thinking" to turn around the war against a resurgent Taliban. Gen. David McKiernan was replaced after less than a year in the job. The new commander will be Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, also an Army officer but with experience as a leader of special forces. McKiernan has a more conventional background.

    "Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed," Gates said at a news conference.

    McKiernan issued a short statement saying his time in Afghanistan made him proud to be an American soldier.

    "All of us, in any future capacity, must remain committed to the great people of Afghanistan," he said.

    McKiernan's exit comes as more than 21,000 additional U.S. forces begin to arrive in Afghanistan, dispatched by Obama to confront the Taliban more forcefully this spring and summer. Despite seven years of effort by the U.S. and allies, Afghanistan remains a battleground with an unstable government, flourishing opium trade and suicide attacks by supporters of al-Qaida.

    Monday's announcement came a week after Afghan civilians were killed during a battle between militants and U.S. forces.

    Afghan officials say up to 147 people may have died in the battle in Farah, though the U.S. says that number is exaggerated.

    The U.S. on Saturday blamed Taliban militants for causing the deaths by using villagers as human shields in hopes they would be killed. A preliminary U.S. report did not say how many people died in the battle.

    Gates said McChrystal, now a senior administrator with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would be nominated for the top job in Afghanistan and that Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez would become McChrystal's deputy. The defense secretary urged the Senate to confirm the two quickly.

    Obama approved 17,000 additional combat forces for Afghanistan this year, plus 4,000 trainers and other noncombat troops. 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 George W. Bush's presidency but still far fewer than the 130,000 still in Iraq.

    McKiernan and other U.S. commanders have said resources they need in Afghanistan are tied up in Iraq.

    Asked if McKiernan's resignation ends his military career, Gates said, "Probably."

    Gates visited Afghanistan last week to see firsthand what preparations and plans were under way to set the president's counterinsurgency strategy in motion.

    "As I have said many times before, very few of these problems can be solved by military means alone," Gates said Monday. "And yet, from the military perspective, we can and must do better."

    He indicated that the Afghan campaign had long lacked the people and money needed in favor of the Bush administration's focus since 2003 on the Iraq war.

    "But I believe, resources or no, that our mission there requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders," Gates said.

    In June 2006 McChrystal was congratulated by then-President Bush 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, his forces included the Army's clandestine counterterrorism unit, Delta Force.

    McChrystal came under fire for his role in the furor surrounding the friendly fire shooting of Army Ranger Pat Tillman — a former NFL star — in Afghanistan. An investigation at the time found that he was "accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions" contained in papers recommending that Tillman get a Silver Star award.

    McChrystal acknowledged he had suspected several days before approving the Silver Star citation that Tillman may have died from friendly fire rather than enemy bullets. He sent a memo to military leaders warning them of that, even as they were approving Tillman's Silver Star. He told investigators that he still believed Tillman deserved the award.

    The Army overruled a Pentagon recommendation that McChrystal be held accountable.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_us_afghanistan
  2. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

    5,040 Messages
    145 Likes Received
    Does the new guy have any Petraeus credentials?
  3. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

    35,176 Messages
    2,021 Likes Received
    Well, both are West Pointers, both were Airborne. Petraeus commanded the 101st and McChrystal commanded the 82nd. I don't know what sort of credentials you might be interested in but I'd say that the two men differ in that Petaeus has a Ph.D from Princeton while McChrystal, I'd say is Special Operations from Jump Boots to his current Assignment. He's pretty much been Special Operations his whole life.
  4. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

    67,130 Messages
    6,913 Likes Received
    I think special Ops is the primary requirement the higher ups were looking for. It was mentioned in the article as well to highlight the differences between him and the previous general.

    And maybe for Afghanistan, you need a more specialized attack (for lack of a better term) than a conventional one.

    I just hate that the other man's military career is over for all intents and purposes.
  5. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

    35,176 Messages
    2,021 Likes Received
    Afghanistan is almost exclusively an SF operational command. Conventional war fare does not work there.

    As for McKiernan, I'm not too surprised. He's not overly popular with the Joint Chiefs. Tommy Franks did not have a very high opinion of him and let that be known. McKiernan, IMO, was assigned to the wrong command. McKiernan is a Tanks Man. He has extensive experience with Mechanized warfare and did some very good work in Europe during the Bosnian War. He commanded the Rapid Deployment Forces stationed in Europe but he was not a good fit for Afghanistan simply because you can't fight that war with Tanks. We should have known that simply by watching the Russians.
  6. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

    4,302 Messages
    83 Likes Received
    He was already a 4 star General, there was really no more rank promotions for him Maybe as a Chief of Staff of the Army or a COCOM commander.

    McChrystal was a ranger through and through. Not much SOCOM time but extensive stints with the Ranger Bat as well as the JSOC Commander. I am a little surprised that he was chosen considering his associations with Abu Ghraib and Pat Tilman.
  7. Jon88

    Jon88 Benched

    7,665 Messages
    0 Likes Received
    He must be related to Barry Switzer because he's just stood back and watched as things fall apart.

    [IMG]

    "This is the next best posture to a chair."
  8. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

    61,241 Messages
    4,569 Likes Received
    I think they have talked for some time that a SF type operations or light infantry is better suited than a mechanized infantry not only because of the enemy with guerilla vs conventional tactics but also because of the terrain.

    So, just so you don't get confused, I am basically echoing what you are saying.:cool:
  9. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

    15,252 Messages
    2,453 Likes Received
    All of this military jargon is raising my testosterone level -- even though I don't understand a word of it.:)
  10. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

    67,130 Messages
    6,913 Likes Received
    I agree, tho it's not raising my testerone level. It is causing my eyes to cross.
  11. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

    15,252 Messages
    2,453 Likes Received
    I wasn't cut out for military life. I'm too delicate.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go pull dinner out of the oven.
  12. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

    35,176 Messages
    2,021 Likes Received
    McChrystal has a very good reputation with the Joint Chiefs and Army Corp. His stints as Commander JSOC is what really sent his star rising. They love him for the work he's done while in command there. He's acredited with the capture of Saddam Hussein. The death of al-Zarqawi and the Tillman thing are, IMO, all the more reason for his appointment. On the Tillman thing, he did what the Army does, which is, try to keep it in house. That was not succesful but the fact that he tried to do that and then took the pain on that only strengthens his position with the Joint Chiefs. They have been trying to find a spot for him for a while now. He was even on the short list to replace Petraeus himself if the President and Petraeus would not see eye to eye. I think he'll do a good job if left to do the job at hand.
  13. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

    35,176 Messages
    2,021 Likes Received
    Yeah, it's pretty amazing. You look at his experience and you just gotta wonder what they were thinking.
  14. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

    4,302 Messages
    83 Likes Received
    oh I am not saying he is a bad guy, just he has some "political issues" that might cause problems for him, especially with the Obama Administration. Hell, anyone who has had three commands with the rangers, including regimental commander, is a pretty damn good guy and someone I want on my side. Definitely someone I would share a foxhole with. But I figured the administration wouldn't want a guy like him who is more about getting the job done rather than worrying about the politics.
  15. jrumann59

    jrumann59 Well-Known Member

    4,230 Messages
    402 Likes Received
    McKiernan was a pretty cool guy, met him when I did some work in DC at his personal quarters. He seemed to have a decent tactical head on his shoulders but you never know once the boots are on the ground and heat of battle starts ruffling the collar. I really hope Obama lets the DoD do its job and not really interfere all we need is a repeat of Vietnam.
  16. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

    5,040 Messages
    145 Likes Received
  17. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

    41,795 Messages
    1,669 Likes Received
    McC has a good rep in the SOF arena. McK did not. As was pointed out its just not the kind of war that fits him. Bad pick to begin with. Gates is the one that selected him in the first place so he gets no credit from me for taking almost a year to recognize the mistake.
  18. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

    67,130 Messages
    6,913 Likes Received
    Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghan Warlord

    By Mark Thompson / Washington – 2 hrs 45 mins ago

    Public beheadings in Afghanistan are usually associated with the Taliban, but on Monday it was Defense Secretary Robert Gates metaphorically wielding the axe from the Pentagon platform. Gates announced that he had asked for and requested the resignation of his top commander in Afghanistan, Army General David McKiernan, after only 11 months in that theater. The 37-year veteran will be replaced by Army Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal. Army Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the Defense Secretary's own top military aide, is to serve in a newly created post as McChrystal's deputy.


    The move was yet another dose of accountability from Gates, who has previously cashiered officers for failing to tend to hospitalized troops or to secure nuclear weapons. But Monday's action was more momentous: It marked the first time a civilian has fired a wartime commander since President Harry Truman ousted General Douglas MacArthur in 1951 for questioning Truman's Korean War strategy. (See pictures of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan.)


    The Obama Administration has made Afghanistan the central front in the war on terror over the past month, it had concluded that McKiernan's tenure there had involved too much wheel-spinning even as the Taliban extended its reach. There was not enough of the "new thinking" demanded by Gates. "It's time for new leadership and fresh eyes," Gates said, refusing to elaborate. He noted that Joints Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and General David Petraeus, who as chief of U.S. Central Command oversees the Afghan war, had endorsed the move. Officers have typically served about 24 months in the slot, meaning McKiernan had served less than half his expected tour.


    Military experts anticipate that U.S. policy in Afghanistan more militarily pointed as well as politically deft, once McChrystal and Rodrigues, his 1976 West Point classmate and fellow Afghan vet, are confirmed by the Senate. "McKiernan did his best - he was just the wrong guy," says retired Army officer and military analyst Ralph Peters. "McChrystal will ask for more authority, not more troops." By the end of this year, the U.S. expects to have close to 70,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 21,000 ordered there by Obama. While that's just half the 130,000 troops the U.S. maintains in Iraq, Gates has been leery of sending further reinforcements. (Read TIME's 2-Min. Bio of McChrystal.)


    McChrystal proved adept at using intelligence to multiply the impact of the troops at his disposal when he commanded U.S. Special Forces in Iraq as they hunted down and killed al-Qaeda leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. And unlike what some call McKiernan's "shy" demeanor and his desire - in Army parlance - to "stay inside his lane," McChrystal is eager to take the spotlight. He's also expected to challenge behavior of the Afghan government that undermines the war effort: One official on the Joint Chiefs of Staff expects McChrystal to warn President Hamid Karzai to shut down drug running operations that fund the Taliban, even when their networks run uncomfortably close to his government. "[McChrystal] will tell him: 'If you don't clean this up, I will.' "


    Not everyone welcomed the change, however. Some viewed McKiernan's firing as unfair, noting that he had inherited command of an under-resourced Afghan theater that had been a secondary priority to Iraq. "In Afghanistan, we do what we can," Mullen himself had said in December 2007. "In Iraq, we do what we must." And while McKiernan was given his Afghan command during the Bush Administration, it had been Gates who had appointed him - at Mullen's recommendation.


    Gates took pains on Monday to avoid criticizing McKiernan. He told the four-star general that his Army career was effectively over during a face-to-face meeting in Afghanistan last week. "This was a kick in the teeth, but McKiernan took it extraordinarily well," a senior Pentagon official said. Other military officials were less courteous. "I still can't figure out why they put an armored guy with no Afghan experience in charge" one said. A second senior official said "Dave McKiernan is clearly part of the Army's old guard - he led troops in [1991's] Desert Storm, for pete's sake. But if things were going better over there, he'd be staying."


    Gates has long demonstrated an impatience with war-time commanders who passively wait for the military hierarchy to give them what they need. He was stunned at the military's foot-dragging when he ordered additional armored vehicles and drone aircraft to the Afghan and Iraq wars.Even though McKiernan's dismissal had been in the works prior to Gates' trip to Afghanistan last week (Mullen had warned McKiernan two weeks ago that it was coming), Gates was incensed by some of what he witnessed during that visit. Several troops complained that they lacked basic gear after arriving in Afghanistan. "It is a considerable concern to me," he said last Thursday, brushing off a suggestion that the Taliban or the priority given to Iraq had been to blame for the Afghan shortfalls. "It's more, really, a logistical challenge than it is anything else," Gates said. That, one of the defense chief's top aides said, is an unacceptable failure in a theater of war. "McKiernan never quite figured out how to ensure that he would succeed - he was still too dependent on the organization coming to his rescue," he said. "Sadly, this institution doesn't always do that."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599189755500
  19. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

    41,795 Messages
    1,669 Likes Received
    Once again will any Reporter ask why Gates appointed him in the first place?
  20. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Bad Santa Staff Member

    61,241 Messages
    4,569 Likes Received
    I don't know why he did but I am not going to make much of a stink about it...I guess I am scared they will put someone back in there as bad as Rummy.

    I think Gates has done a pretty good job even if this was a screw up.

Share This Page