14 mei 2009

Top General Afghanistan Fired

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced yesterday that he had requested the resignation of the top American general in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, making a rare decision to remove a wartime commander at a time when the Obama administration has voiced increasing alarm about the country's downward spiral.
McKiernan, an armor officer who led U.S. ground forces during the 2003 Iraq invasion, was viewed as somewhat cautious and conventionally minded, according to senior officials inside and outside the Pentagon.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region, has pressed aggressively to broaden the military's mission in Afghanistan and Iraq beyond killing the enemy to protecting the population, overseeing reconstruction projects and rebuilding local governance. Petraeus played a key role in the Obama administration's strategic review of the Afghanistan conflict and was involved in the decision to remove McKiernan, which Petraeus said in a statement he "fully supports."
The decision to fire McKiernan represents one of a handful of times since President Harry S. Truman's removal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951 that U.S. civilian leaders have relieved a top wartime commander, and is in keeping with Gates's style of demanding accountability by dismissing senior military and civilian officials for a host of problems, including nuclear weapons mismanagement and inadequate care for wounded troops.


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