President Obama has named Gen. David Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top US military commander in Afghanistan. The change, though a stunning development, is unlikely to result in any change in the strategy that U.S. and its NATO allies have been pursuing. Indeed, there was some relief in Washington.
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, Senator Carl Levin, said Petraeus is the right choice to lead the US war effort in Afghanistan, while Republican Senator on the committee, John McCain of Arizona, said ‘There is a role for the military in our society and that role is that you not only obey civilian leadership, but you respect civilian leadership and if you don’t, then you resign’.
The reference was to the interview Gen Stanley McChrystal gave to the Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine article, ‘The Runaway General’, has General McChrystal and his staff making sharp, mocking or otherwise unflattering comments about President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James Jones and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.
Senator Levin said the confirmation hearing (of Gen Petraeus as US commander for Afghanistan) will be held no later than next Tuesday, June 29.
It was during last week’s appearance before the Armed Services Committee that Petraeus fainted due to dehydration. Levin postponed the hearing by a day, allowing Petraeus time to rest.
During the hearing, General Petraeus said he agreed with both the key parts of counter –insurgency policy for Afghanistan: first, that additional troops be surged into Afghanistan by the end of the summer, and, second, that there be reductions in US troops levels in Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 as the essential way of getting the Afghans to focus on the need to transition to them the responsibility for their own security.