General McChrystal Resigns Command
POSTED: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 - 7:41pm
WASHINGTON D.C. - President Barack Obama has accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of all U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, after McChrystal made controversial comments in a magazine article.
Obama said he made the decision to accept McChrystal's resignation "with considerable regret," but called it the right step. "I don't make this decision based on any sense of personal insult."
The president said he has chosen Gen. David Petraeus to replace McChrystal as top Afghan commander.
Petraeus now oversees the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obama said McChrystal's magazine comments undermined civilian control of the U.S. military.
Earlier, McChrystal was seen leaving the West Wing and climbing into a van after his nearly half-hour private showdown with the president.
Summoned to Washington to explain himself, McChrystal arrived from Kabul in the early morning and met first at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
After his next face-to-face, with Obama, the general was not seen returning to the White House for a scheduled Afghanistan strategy session, as had been expected.
It was not known where he went, as he did not appear at his Pentagon office, either.
Even before their showdown, the White House's rebuke of the general suggested it would be hard for him to save his job.
Before facing the president, McChrystal met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen at the Pentagon.
In a Rolling Stone magazine article, McChrystal didn't criticize Obama himself but called the period last fall when the president was deciding whether to approve more troops "painful" and said Obama appeared ready to hand him an "unsellable" position.
McChrystal also said he was "betrayed" by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner in Afghanistan.
He accused Eikenberry of raising doubts about Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed.
"Now, if we fail, they can say 'I told you so,'" McChrystal told the magazine. And he was quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden.
If not insubordination, the remarks — as well as even sharper commentary about Obama and his White House from several in McChrystal's inner circle — were at least an indirect and extraordinary challenge and one that consumed Washington on Tuesday.
The capital hasn't seen a similar public contretemps between a president and a top wartime commander since Harry Truman stripped Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his command more than a half-century ago after disagreements over Korean War strategy.
Notably, neither McChrystal nor his team questioned the accuracy of the story or the quotes in it. McChrystal issued an apology.