President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan following the release of a story in Rolling Stone in which he and his aides made derogatory remarks about members of the administration’s national security team and allies.
In making the announcement June 23 in the Rose Garden, Obama said he is nominating Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, to succeed McChrystal. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, promised an early hearing on the nomination.
Petraeus appeared before the committee the week before testifying about the military and political situation in Afghanistan particularly in Kandahar Province, and Pakistan.
Obama said, “War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security.”
Adding, “This is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy.”
In the recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, under secretary of defense for policy, were repeatedly asked whether the July 2011 date mentioned by Obama in his speech at the United States Military Academy announcing a 30,000 troop increase in American forces in Afghanistan was a date certain to begin withdrawal. They said it depends on the conditions on the ground at the time.
Both added that a December review of the situation in Afghanistan would provide insight into how to proceed against the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda.
"It's important that July 2011 be seen for what it is, the date when a process begins based on conditions, not the date when the U.S. heads for the exits," Petraeus said. "Moreover, my agreement with the president's decisions was based on projections of conditions in July 2011. Needless to say, we'll do all that is humanly possible to achieve those conditions."
In a statement announcing his resignation, McChrystal said, “I strongly support the president’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment and the desire to see the mission succeed that I tendered my resignation.”
McChrystal assumed command in Afghanistan in May, with an assessment of the war effort as his first task. Based on McChrystal’s assessment, Obama ordered the additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
Before serving in Afghanistan, he was the director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He also had served as the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “General Petraeus is the best that we have. I have great confidence in his ability to bring about a successful outcome in Afghanistan. The commander-in-chief must have confidence in his commanders in the field. It is time to move on and return our focus to waging the war in Afghanistan.”