McChrystal Endorses Senior NATO Civilian Leader For Afghanistan
Adm. James Stavridis made it sound like a fait accompli this morning when he told a blogger conference call that NATO will soon announce a new senior official for coordinating allied civilian contributions to Afghanistan. The new position will be filled by a civilian. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise: Gen. Stanley McChrystal is also backing the effort, which would give the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan a civilian counterpart.
“Because of the importance of civil-military integration in counterinsurgency operations,” McChrystal spokesman Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis told me, “ISAF supports the concept of a stronger NATO senior civilian representative position in Afghanistan.” ISAF is the acronym for International Security Assistance Force, the NATO military command in Afghanistan.
Just to be clear about something: McChrystal is what the military calls “dual-hatted” as both the commander of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, known as USFOR-A, and ISAF, the NATO mission. Amb. Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. envoy to Kabul, is McChrystal’s civilian counterpart for the USFOR-A side only. ISAF currently has no top civilian. This position would rectify that imbalance.
(Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is Gen. David Petraeus’ civilian counterpart, a level up from McChrystal. Just in case you were wondering about him.)