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22 June 2010

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The beaver

President Barack Obama on Wednesday relieved General Stanley McChrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan, according to media reports. Obama has named General David Petraeus to replace McChrystal as top Afghan commander, the reports said. McChrystal was removed after making disparaging remarks about the administration in a magazine interview.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/obama-relieves-gen-mcchrystal-of-command-reports-2010-06-23?siteid=bnbh

He is a goner being replaced by Petraeus for now,

Siun

McChrystal out, Petraeus in and the same failed policy goes on.

Obama said "this is a change in personnel, not in policy.

Carl O.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37866754/ns/us_news-military/?GT1=43001

McChrystal has been fired.

Grimgrin

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/06/23/mcchrystal-out-petraeus-in/

Interesting stuff if true.

I've heard some chatter about Petraeus' political ambitions. Obama may have just thrown him a hospital pass. It also suggests Obama is looking to replicate the surge, i.e. buy off enough of the people fighting you to provide enough stability so you can withdraw.

I'm not up on my Kremlinology enough to speculate beyond that.

Norman Rogers

So President Obama puts the man who convinced him to hire McChrystal in the first place in charge of Afghanistan, pretty much demoting him from his job at CENTCOM. When everything appears to be going in the wrong way, go with the guy who set the agenda when he was swept into the CENTCOM job by popular acclaim? That's nuts.

And what happens when Petraeus exhausts himself? Is he going to pass out again? Or is he going to take it easy and run things from Florida? I guess it can be done by videoconference. But don't call him a REMF, of course. People get touchy about that, apparently.

President Obama has been rolled again. He has demonstrated that he's not in charge; the generals are in charge. The generals are running things. He just wants them to go fight their war and then give him cover so he can run in 2012 on a promise kept to "end" the war in Afghanistan.

It's over, kids. We don't have a President. We have a wonderfully eloquent lawyer who's in over his head.

Mike Moscoe

It appears that General Petraeus is to replace Gen McChrystal in Afghanistan. (per WP) So is this a demotion for Petraeus? Or just a recognition that it's easier for him to step in at the moment? Or is it just easier to replace CentCom than Afghanistan.

Those who wondered if Obama would fish or cut bate now have their answer. He went grenade fishing.

Mike Moscoe

John Minnerath

McChrystal actually did resign his commission!?!
That from the latest news I just caught.
I had expected the President would go through with relieving him of his command and he would retire.
But not to resign.

JT Cornpone

I had a feeling when I heard General McC had been summoned to the whitehouse that Obama was going to fire him and had the class to want to do it face to face. An hour ago Obama announced that McC is out and General Petraeus is his replacement.

I learned a bunch from this thread and I will continue to follow this topic avidly to see how the commenters here feel about Petraeus as a replacement and the concensus on how the President handled this sorry affair. My take is that Obama handled this well under the circumstances that were presented to him.

JT

Walrus

MJ:

"REMF this REMF that. Everyone is, or has been, at the tip of the spear huh? Where did you get your ammo? How did you get where you were, how did you eat, how did you communicate? "

This is off topic I know, but MJ, no offence is meant to the hard working and vital support troops.

There are unfortunately officers in every nations services who have no real reason to go to a war theater, but are attracted to them out of curiosity, desire for war stories to tell and perhaps a campaign medal, badge or other souvenir, in other words, a short and exciting military holiday. They make up reasons why they have to be there.

By way of example during the Falklands war, Capt R. McQueen, who was in charge of the Ascension Island supply base, personally met each arriving transport aircraft and interviewed any officers on board as to the reason it was vitally necessary for them to be heading to the Falklands.

At least half of those interviewed were refused onwards transport and sent back to Britain. Those were REMFS.

Back on topic, Obama has accepted McChrystals resignation and nominated Petreaus to succeed him.

Mad Dogs

Some commentary from the Special Operations community via Sean Naylor of Army Times (and author of Not A Good Day To Die):

McChrystal comments shock spec ops officers

Special operations officers who have worked closely with Gen. Stanley McChrystal declared themselves “shocked” and “floored” by comments attributed to him and his staff in a Rolling Stone article that has jeopardized his position as senior military commander in Afghanistan...

...“I was shocked, because I know a lot of those guys,” said a special mission unit officer who has worked closely with McChrystal. “The comment about Jones, the comment about Holbrooke? Come on, are you kidding me? That’s just — unprofessional is a mild word for it...

...Indeed, it was the comments attributed to members of McChrystal’s staff that made the biggest impact on the special ops officers. “McChrystal has surrounded himself with a bunch of clowns … who don’t have really have a clue of what their role is and what they’re doing,” said a Special Forces officer with extensive experience in Afghanistan...

[snip]

...But the field-grade SF officer said he thought McChrystal deserved the axe for displaying “unbelievably poor judgment” and a lack of “maturity.”

“I never thought I would say this,” the SF officer said. “Until this article I was a huge McChrystal fan. I was just floored at how immature he came across.”

But the four-star general isn’t the only one who should lose his job as a result of the Rolling Stone article, the SF officer said.

“Every son of a b—- near McChrystal should be fired as well,” the field grade SF officer said. “Every one of those guys.”

He dismissed the argument that McChrystal is essential to the war effort. “Stan McChrystal is not the linchpin of the strategy, and frankly it has not been going well,” said the field grade SF officer…


dilbert dogbert

Col Lang,
Could this be similar to a common happening in police work: Suicide by Cop? Where a perp pulls a gun on a cop so as to end it all.

J

Well this is just lovely:

McCain to pressure Petraeus on Afghanistan withdrawal deadline

".....Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is already declaring that he will pressure Petraeus to abandon President Obama's "arbitrary" July 2011 withdrawal date and instead base troop drawdown on the current conditions in Afghanistan.

Nancy K

graywolf, I don't feel that Obama has been underwhelmingly or overwhelmingly imept.
I think his decision regarding General McChrystal was the only one he could make.
President Obama has been faced with unbelievable difficulties. My refererence to the teabaggers was only to illustrate that the country could be worse off, Sarah Palin or any other of those idiots could be in charge.

Fnord

P.S.: Who wanted petraeus out of CENTCOM?

Jackie

J,
That's just lovely. McCain (one of the three stooges in addition to Lieberman and Graham) is going to pressure Petraeus on the withdrawal timeline? How the f are we ever to win a war if our idiot senators can't agree with the policy? Christ, maybe we need a war in the Senate. Does McCain realize he is not the President? That just disgusts me!

The Twisted Genius

I think Obama handled this well. McCrystal is out and probably to be placed on the retired roll. I doubt he is actually resigning his commission without retirement in spite of what all the reports say. I made the same mistake yesterday. I did not expect Petraeus to be tapped to replace McCrystal. I think it's a brilliant move that signals that Obama is, indeed, the CIC. Petraeus will not need a transition period and will now be busy trying to make the plan that he agreed to work. It should leave him little time for political sniping through hs favorite think tanks.

I am astounded by McCain's apparent intent to talk Petraeus into blatant insubordination. After this recent bout of general officer foolishness, I don't think King David will have the stomach for that. Somebody should remind McCain that he lost the election. Actually, this was more than foolishness. It was a serious breach of military discipline and a disrespect of the Constitution. Although I respect and honor McCrystal's considerable service, I am personally offended by his breach of professionalism.

I also think Petraeus will have a tougher time this time around in buying off this insurgency. We're already buying them off just to keep our supply lines open... and the piggy bank is empty. I hope he takes this "clean slate" opportunity to stop trying to create the new Afghanistan, tell Karzai to start looking for some local friends (as he seems to be doing) and give the "Gant Plan" a try.

The Twisted Genius

This could be a stroke of incredibly good luck for Petraeus. If that huge pocket of methane in the Gulf does burp up to the surface and launch a 100 to 200 foot tall tidal wave across Florida, Mexico and everything in between, he will be much better off in Kabul than in Tampa.

FB Ali

Many of the comments consider the decision to replace McChrystal with Petraeus as a bad one. I think it not only makes a lot of sense but is rather clever.

After all, it was these two who devised the half-assed COIN strategy, based on another 'surge', and sold it to Obama. Now that it appears to be failing, let Petraeus show if he can turn it around, and, if he can't, then carry the can for it.

Appointing someone else would have left Obama open to the charge that his firing of McChrystal prevented the strategy from succeeding, and thus he was responsible for the inevitable Afghan debacle.

jerseycityjoan

J --

What would President McCain have done if General Patraeus ignored him and made up his own withdrawal schedule?

I guess it's a good thing this is only a hypothetical situation, isn't it?

Is it really possible McCain said something so wrong and counter to everything an officer' s supposed to do? Shame on him, if he did.

different clue

I am relieved to see that President Obama removed (or facilitated the removal of) General McCrystal in the most expeditious possible way. To the limited extent that I understand the problems of caesarism; it had to be done to suppress this particular outbreak of it. Do other caesarists in this group need to be found and separated from eachother so that they don't or can't reach a critical mass?

Dilbert Dogbert, I have read versions of this speculation on other blogs; that General McCrystal suspects this war to be unwinnable by us at this point no matter what, and that he therefor arranged to have himself removed from
the situation before total unwinnability becomes obvious to all.

I do not regret my vote for Obama. McCain/Palin would still have been catastrophically worse. How is "hope and change" working out for me so far? Better than "drill baby drill" has worked out for the Gulf of Mexico so far. My fear is that the Obama we have seen is the real Obama...that the selection of the Orszags and the Emmanuels was done to give Obama the support and imprimatur he wanted for things he already believed and goals he has already set. (For example, if Obama doesn't want to cripple or kill Social Security, why did he appoint Social Security-hater Senator Simpson to head his Presidential Deficit Commission?)
Regardless, if the Republicans nominate another
matched set like McCain/Palin; I will vote Obama again to avert that catastrophe again.

arbogast

A complete perversion of reality from the NY Times:

"Mr. Obama also insisted that his Afghanistan policy will not change. What he didn’t say is that the war is going badly. If there is any chance of beating back the Taliban and Al Qaeda, he needs a commander he can trust. His choice of Gen. David Petraeus — the only four star with a higher profile than General McChrystal — should provide some reassurance to allies and Americans. But their anxieties are not going away."

"to allies and Americans"?

Ah, yes, allies and Americans.

Americans want the war to end. They want the troops home. They do not understand what national interest is at stake is a remote corner of the earth without resources except hard drugs which our troops do not seem to be "missioned" to attack.

But our allies? Which allies? Britain, France, Germany? These allies want out as well.

Apparently, Joe Lieberman is now the editor in chief of the NYT.

Neil Richardson

Brigadier Ali:

"Many of the comments consider the decision to replace McChrystal with Petraeus as a bad one. I think it not only makes a lot of sense but is rather clever.

After all, it was these two who devised the half-assed COIN strategy, based on another 'surge', and sold it to Obama. Now that it appears to be failing, let Petraeus show if he can turn it around, and, if he can't, then carry the can for it."

Let me propose another possibility. Last week when McCain tried to pin Petraeus on the proposed drawdown schedule during a Senate hearing, the general stated that he supported the current policy. I think McCain will try to bring this up again during the confirmation hearing. Now I don't think Petraeus will change his position so quickly, but what will happen during the next policy review? If Petraeus requests a surge after significant GOP gains after the midterm election, how will President Obama respond? Now I don't believe McChrystal was a forlorn hope for the COIN community, but this could be a Fool's mate as well.


"Appointing someone else would have left Obama open to the charge that his firing of McChrystal prevented the strategy from succeeding, and thus he was responsible for the inevitable Afghan debacle."

And another replacement could've led to a drawn out confirmation hearing prior to the midterm election.

Sidney O. Smith III

Duty. Honor. Country. Obama won that round.

J

But.....Gates told Obama NOT to fire McChrystal? Say what? Obama needs to get rid of his countermanding OSD Gates. Every time Bob opens his mouth, he sticks his foot in it. And our kids in the field bare the brunt of Gates's narcissistic behavior. Time for Gates to go, Obama should have fired Gates the moment he assumed the Presidential mantle. Gates needs to go!

Gates advocated keeping McChrystal, source says

Sidney O. Smith III

Surely McCrystal will have a book deal. I cannot help but wonder if he will mention Hackworth.

No matter which side of the fence you fall on re: Hackworth’s position in 1971, it is inconceivable to me that Hackworth would have had someone on his staff, military or civilian who, in essence, said, well if Mr. VP doesn’t like it, then he can just “bite me”. Surely on that point, everyone could agree.

Bite me? I haven’t heard that one since the 8th grade. Honestly, what grown man in this day and age still says such?

Duty. Honor. Country.

And if Mr. VP doesn’t like it, then, well, Mr. VP can bite me.

Something here just doesn’t make sense.

As God is my witness, them ol’ working class brawlers from my Georgia hometown spoke much wisdom. Glad I had the chance to listen to them. I was blessed beyond measure. But I just don’t think they would go for some officer or civilian staff member saying, well if mr. vp doesn’t like it, he can just bite me. Different era than today, though.

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