Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the commander of the Afghanistan war Monday, saying the Obama administration needed “fresh thinking” to turn around the war against a resurgent Taliban. Gen. David McKiernan was replaced after less than a year in the job. The new commander will be Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, also an Army officer but with experience as a leader of special forces. McKiernan has a more conventional background.
“Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed,” Gates said at a news conference.
McKiernan issued a short statement saying his time in Afghanistan made him proud to be an American soldier.
“All of us, in any future capacity, must remain committed to the great people of Afghanistan,” he said.
McKiernan’s exit comes as more than 21,000 additional U.S. forces begin to arrive in Afghanistan, dispatched by Obama to confront the Taliban more forcefully this spring and summer. Despite seven years of effort by the U.S. and allies, Afghanistan remains a battleground with an unstable government, flourishing opium trade and suicide attacks by supporters of al-Qaida. …
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