Barack Obama has fired his top commander in Afghanistan. The President had summoned General Stanley McChrystal to the White House over comments seen as damaging to the war effort.
A magazine article reveals the commander and his advisers openly criticising and mocking top administration officials.
A British general will take temporary charge of NATO’s forces.
President Obama said:
“I welcome debate among my team but I won’t tolerate division. All of us have personal interests, all of us have opinions, our politics often fuels conflict. But we have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibilities to one another, and to our troops who are in harm’s way, and to our country. We need to remember what this is all about. Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan.”
General McChrystal apologised for the remarks, saying he made a mistake reflecting poor judgement. But US officials said they had expected him to offer his resignation.
His temporary British replacement will soon give way to General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command who led the surge in Iraq. President Obama described it as a change in personnel but not a change in policy.
But it could be seen as a risky move at a particularly difficult time in the war.