Gates Orders a Change of Command in Afghanistan

The Pentagon will be replacing the current top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, who has served in the position a mere 11 months. The decision comes on the heels of President Obama’s new plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan and marks a clear change in strategy in an increasingly complex war.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is recommending as McKiernan’s replacement Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq.

The Washington Post:

Gates refused to detail why he asked for McKiernan’s resignation. Instead he said that the Afghanistan mission “requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders. Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed.”

He said McKiernan would remain on the job until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate and in Afghanistan. He also announced that Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez be will assigned to the new position of deputy commander for Afghanistan forces.

Gates said there was no specific dispute that led to his decision to replace McKiernan, but he felt “a fresh approach, fresh look in the context of the new strategy, was appropriate.”

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