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Breaking:McChrystal Out, Petraeus In

June 23, 2010

General David Petraeus was just demoted to take over the top reigns in Afghanistan from the sacked General Stanley McChrystal. The McChrystal dismissal may become a good thing if it now brings focus on the civilian side which has been described as “dysfunctional”. If we have learned anything from the COIN warfare of the past decade is that it takes both the civil as well as military sector to be on the same team and strategy if an acceptable outcome is sought.

Concerning Petraeus, it is hard to conceive of a better choice, other than the man who literally wrote the book on modern US Army counter-insurgency tactics. This is probably long overdue, and puts a very positive light on a potentially dark outcome of sacking the commanding general in the middle of a major offensive.

I doubt the Taliban will be rejoicing over the change-over for long. In fact, they have good reason for worry. David Ignatius at the Washington Post opines:

If the Taliban sold stock, its price would surely have fallen after Wednesday’s announcement.

Stanley McChrystal has been in charge of the Afghanistan Front for 18 months with so far little noticeable results. In 2006, when Petraeus took over command in Iraq, the change was felt almost immediately and now we are withdrawing forces at a rapid pace.

One final point.  Michael Yon’s original description of McChrystal seems to be more accurate than we thought, with the freelance reporter being soundly lambasted in the blogosphere from his peers. As David Axe says:

Controversial war reporter Michael Yon anticipated the current flap two months ago after he was booted from a media embed inside McChrystal’s staff. “Today, I do not trust McChrystal anymore than some people trust The New York Times, Obama or Bush,” Yon wrote in April.

So should Yon now feel vindicated?


A few Outstanding Quotes on the McChrystal firing:

“The hearing for general Petraeus confirmation will probably be the fastest in the history of the Armed Services Committee”.–Sen. John McCain

“I think today the President stepped up and dealt with it directly and strongly and made the right decision”.–Sen. Joe Lieberman

“Dave Petraeus is our best hope”.–Sen. Lindsey Graham


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 24, 2010 5:27 pm

    “Mike, do you mean ‘indispensable’?”

    Oops! Makes a difference doesn’t it!

  2. MatR permalink
    June 24, 2010 10:26 am

    Mike, do you mean ‘indispensable’?

  3. Hudson permalink
    June 24, 2010 10:01 am

    Thanks, Mike

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    June 24, 2010 6:40 am

    Thanks for your thoughts Hudson. I hadn’t heard anyone mention the “Seven Days in May” scenario, but obviously some like to see the military in this light.

    I have high confidence that Petraeus will set things aright and he probably should have went straight from Iraq to Afghanistan 2 years ago. He could be the indispensable man of this war. They are not uncommon in American history.

  5. Hudson permalink
    June 24, 2010 2:00 am

    The President and his team, and many of the commentators, are misreading this event. Gen. McCrystal was ridiculing the civilian side but not really challenging its authority. This was no “7 Days in May” plot.

    Military commanders will be very careful to whom they say what in the future.

    Gen. Petraeus should immediately go to Afghanistan, make his assessment, and return to Washington to give the President and his team his honest thoughts on the war before December, which might include saying that there is no longer time for a proper COIN strategy given the date certain beginning withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan next July. Either push back the date or drop the date altogether.

    The new strategy should give local commanders more flexibility in calling in air and artillery strikes to save American lives. Rather than trying to take and hold large towns or cities, the strategy should be to aid the Afghans in resisting the Taliban in small villages, so it is the Taliban who become isolated not us.

    More effort should be make to draw the Taliban into open battle, where we can use our firepower and prevail. The President must understand that politically correct language will not win the war. There will be no “success” if we fail to win the war. The loss of Afghanistan may very well lead to the loss of Pakistan over time, with likely dire consequences for the West.

    Terrible events can happen right before our eyes unless we prevent them. History can march backwards into a new Dark Ages.

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