MILITARY SHAKEUP

POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 - 8:49am

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:23pm

President appoints new commander in Afghanistan

Today, President Obama will meet with his top commander and top diplomat in Iraq, and separately with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There is news from both US warzones, including a major change in leadership in the war in Afghanistan.

The Obama war team didn't shy from the boldness of this. It's the first time a general's been dismissed from combat command since the Korean war, a stark admission the US effort in Afghanistan is getting an overhaul.

Defense officials made clear that the abrupt shake-up in US command in Afghanistan reflects orders from the top.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said "today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy."

Secretary Gates said he asked for the resignation of General David McKiernan, less than a year on the job and described as too conventional.

With violence on the rise, combat casualties up and civilian deaths souring many Afghans to the US, Lieutenant General Stan McChrystal will take over.

Mr. Gates said "the focus here is simply on getting fresh thinking, fresh eyes on the problem."

McChrystal led special operations in Iraq where there was bad news. At Camp Liberty, a US soldier shot and killed five fellow US troops. It happened at a center for soldiers coping with stress, underscoring another combat challenge.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "it does speak to me though about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern, in terms of dealing with the stress."

Many analysts blame repeated deployments, an uncertain end.

U.S. military analyst, Col. Jack Jacobs, said "this feeling that the war and their participation in it will continue for infinity, I think has the single largest impact on how troops feel about their environment there."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "he was shocked by the news of this incident."

A spokesman said President Obama called for an investigation. The soldier had reportedly been relieved of his weapon but returned to the center with another one.

That soldier is now in custody. It was the deadliest soldier-on-soldier attack since the war began, and the deadliest incident for US troops in Iraq in the last month.

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