June 24, 2010

McChrystal Out, Petraeus In

I arrived in Vail, Colorado this afternoon to digest the news from Washington -- which I did during a trail run up Riva Ridge, getting in touch with my 10th Mountain Division forefathers. I think the president acted very wisely today. I think he was well within his rights to fire Gen. Stan McChrystal, a friend and a man for whom I have great admiration, and that it was correct for healthy civil-military relations that he did so. He did so in a very classy way, too, noting Gen. McChrystal's long record of service and the role he has played since 2001 as both commander in Afghanistan and in command of the Joint Special Operations Command. (I believe he will someday get the credit he deserves for his service at the helm of JSOC.) And he did so in a way that minimized many of the risks I wrote about yesterday by replacing Gen. McChrystal with Gen. Petraeus. Those who hoped this episode would lead to a wider examination of U.S. and allied strategy in Afghanistan will be disappointed. But it will be interesting to see how Gen. Petraeus responds to the day-to-day challenges of Afghanistan and what shifts he recommends to both President Obama and President Karzai.

These have been a remarkable but tough few days. We have reason to hope, though, going forward. The president acted with confidence and wisdom. And we have a very good general en route to Kabul. All that is left, then, is to thank Gen. Stan McChrystal for his service. It is a pity that a man who has given so much to his nation ends his career in such ignominious fashion.