McKiernan Out in Afghanistan, McChrystal In

By
Monday, May 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

If you want a sign of how thoroughly Gen. David Petraeus is taking command of the Afghanistan war, look no further than today’s surprise news that Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who ran special operations in Iraq for Petraeus during the 2007 troop surge, will be the new ground commander. McChrystal is known as one of the smartest and least conventional thinkers in the Army, and a counterinsurgent’s counterinsurgent. Over the next few days you’ll read a lot of glowing praise for him from the counterinsurgency community.

Faiz Shakir at ThinkProgress had this anti-McChrystal post not long ago, raising a quote of his from April 2003:

“I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over,” Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. He said U.S. forces are moving into a phase of “smaller, albeit sharper fights.”

The second half of that quote gives more context than the one Faiz highlighted. It certainly wasn’t the case that “major” combat engagements ended, but it certainly was the case that “sharper fights” with an incipient Iraqi insurgency escalated. While McChrystal should have known better than to use the word “major” to describe “conventional” conflict, that quote looks more prescient than wrong-headed.

Why’s Gen. David McKiernan out? I don’t know yet. I’ve heard grumblings about McKiernan being slow to adapt to the complexities of the Afghanistan war, but nothing that you’d hang your hat on, or rise to the level of outright dissatisfaction.

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Comments

8 Comments

JC
Comment posted May 11, 2009 @ 11:19 am

Kazai wanted him out. McKiernan's nickname was General 'Sorry' because he kept having to come to Karzai's office to explain why US forces were killing civilians so often. He once visited Karzai's office three times in one week to 'apologize'.


Warrior
Comment posted May 11, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

'responsible' pace to growing the Afghan security force may be the heart of it. Gen Petraeus has made no secret of his 'boots on the ground' strategy. Out-recruiting the Taliban may be the way to go… but Gen McKeirnan's more deliberate approach has been producing results, albiet not as fast as anyone would like. History is on the side of the Gen McKeirnan strategy. Many have tried for a 'shake and bake' solution to Afghanistan's security and failed. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan needs the time to develop its security institutions, and other aspects of a 'rule-of-law' society (Literacy for example). In the end, a long-term comittment to Afghanistan is required. And if there is a long-term commitment, there is no reason to rush the development of security forces at a pace that can't be controlled (accountability); a fast pace invites a corrosive environment that will foster corruption and waste.


All Our Might » Blog Archive » McKiernan replaced
Pingback posted May 11, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

[...] 1.  McChrystal is a special ops guy, and operations in Afghanistan look more like, well, special ops.  McKiernan has had a standard rise through large scale commands which is probably detrimental to taking charge of a nuanced small war.  McChrystal is the counterinsurgency’s community’s wet dream. [...]


Lt. Gen. Stanley Mcchrystal
Pingback posted May 11, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

[...] McKiernan Out in Afghanistan, McChrystal In [...]


JERRY BORIS
Comment posted May 11, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

ADD ME TO YOUR MAIL LIST
JERRY_BORIS@YAHOO.COM


joeypanto
Comment posted May 13, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

Hmm…first ouster of a theater commander since MacArthur….war expanding to Pakistan, hundreds of civilians killed….somehow I'm not feeling any safer. Neither does libertarian Army vet Lonnie Holcomb, whom I interviewed today…see youtube.com/watch?v=6lHxnA8AuoY


joeypanto
Comment posted May 14, 2009 @ 1:57 am

Hmm…first ouster of a theater commander since MacArthur….war expanding to Pakistan, hundreds of civilians killed….somehow I'm not feeling any safer. Neither does libertarian Army vet Lonnie Holcomb, whom I interviewed today…see youtube.com/watch?v=6lHxnA8AuoY


4605973
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

4605973 beers on the wall. sck was here


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