President Obama announced this morning that General David Petraeus will take over as commander in Afghanistan, replacing troublesome General Stanley A. McChrystal.
McChrystal, who openly criticized Obama from the beginning, resigned (or was forced to resign), after a Rolling Stone interview crossed the line by verbally attacking the President, Vice-President, members of Congress, diplomatic officials, and other officers in the field. Essentially McChrystal and Company verbally assaulted everyone else involved with the war effort, except themselves. McChrystal’s antics, for over a year, have caused division among the ranks.
Saying that what McChrystal did “erodes trust,” Obama said that he asked Petraeus to take over (he could have ordered him). Petraeus said he would do whatever the President wanted him to do.
Referring to “adherence to strict code of conduct,” Obama cited military code which forbids soldiers from publicly criticizing policy. Obama referred to this code as being “at the core of our democratic system…since the Founding” because it makes a clear distinction between the role of military and the role of elected civilians, who make policy, and prevents a military state.
Obama finished up by firmly asserting, “I won’t tolerate division.” McChrystal’s needling of the Obama Administration, which became public last year at a speech McChrystal gave in London, has caused division among the troops as well as inside the West Wing. Afghanistan is getting worse rather than better because of this disruption. This month makes the Afghan war longer than Viet Nam.
McChrystal’s COIN policy, outlined in Rollling Stone, is a hybrid strategy which put the general in a diplomatic role as well as soldier. His strategy restricts the ability of soldiers to fight to defend themselves from attack. His plans to create a kinder, gentler fighting force has resulted in failures and loss of life.
Obama made a good decision by getting rid of McChrystal and he made an excellent choice in Petraeus.
General Petraeus did well in Iraq. Because he is a soldier who knows the chain of command and follows his Commander In Chief, Petraeus will do better than McChrystal by bringing troops and staff together.