Stan Out, Petraeus In

by Daniel Foster

Fox News is reporting that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been relieved of his duties and will be replaced by current CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus.

This is technically a demotion for Petraeus, who was until today McChrystal’s commanding officer. So this could be viewed as Petraeus taking one for the team. But if McChrystal is the prince of counterinsurgency strategy, Petraeus is the king. The move telegraphs a continued commitment to that strategy.

UPDATE: In remarks just now in the Rose Garden, President Obama said:

“Today I accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation. I did so with considerable regret but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country.”

Critically, he said that his decision was not based  “on any difference in policy with Gen. McChrystal” nor on “any sense of personal insult.” McChrystal, said Obama, “has always carried out my orders faithfully.”

“I believe it is the right decision for our national security,” Obama said. McChrystal’s conduct as reflected in the Rolling Stone article, “does not meet the standard that should be set for a commanding general.” It “undermines” civilian control of the military and “erodes the trust that is necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.”

Obama closed by reiterating his commitment to the Afghan troop surge and counterinsurgency. “This is a change in personnel but not a change in policy,” he said, adding that Gen. Petraeus was an integral part of developing the president’s Afghanistan strategy.

Gen. McChrystal also issued a brief statement. He said that he “strongly support[ed] the president’s strategy in Afghanistan.” 

“It was out of respect for this commitment and desire to see this mission succeed, that I tendered my resignation,” he said.