Change in Command: General Petraeus In, McChrystal Out

Pres. Obama Removes Gen. McChrystal From Top Afghan Post

US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal (R) speaks during a press briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs (rear) on May 10, 2010. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, June 24, 2010 - President Barack Obama expressed confidence on Thursday in General David Petraeus, the new commander for Afghanistan and US strategy, in the region.

The comments come a day after the president nominated Gen. Petraeus, head of United States Central Command, to replace General Stanley McChrystal after he and his aides made critical remarks about the administration in a profile in Rolling Stone magazine.

In that article, McChrystal is described as being "disappointed" after his initial meeting with Obama, who he thought was "uncomfortable and intimidated" in his interactions with senior military officials.

At a joint news conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Obama reiterated the decision is a "change in personnel, but not a change in policy." He said the US "will not miss a beat" on the ground in Afghanistan.

Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl speaking on Bloomberg Television, said he was confident the appointment of General Petraeus was a "great, great choice" who will continue to champion General McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy. But Metzl warned, "As talented as General Petraeus is, it's going to be very difficult for him to come in and establish himself very quickly." He emphasized changing generals at this critical stage is not ideal.

Metzl said that nine years into the war, the first phase of the shift toward counterinsurgency taking place in the southern region of Marja has not succeeded in any meaningful way. Plans for extending this strategy to Kandahar have been delayed repeatedly.

Asked if this is a step backward for the US, Metzl replied, "There are a lot of uncertainties and a lot of questions about America's staying power, questions about the legitimacy of the Afghan government, questions about Pakistan's role, so it's a very complicated and I fear, deteriorating situation."

Listen to audio excerpts:

Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl on Pres. Obama's decision to relieve Gen. McChrystal of his duties in Afghanistan. (29 sec.)


Metzl on the appointment of Gen. Petraeus as new top commander in Afghanistan. (57 sec.)


Metzl responds to Bloomberg's Lori Rothman on the uncertainty of US engagement in Afghanistan after Obama dismissed McChrystal. (41 sec.)

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Metzl on Gen. Petraeus' challenge as new commander of US forces in Afghanistan. (17 sec.)


Join the discussion below: Do you think General Stanley McChrystal should have been dismissed?

Additonal Resources:

Asia Society's Afghanistan Programming

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