Monday, May 11, 2009

Thoughts on Gen. McKiernan's Ouster

The news came down the pipe today that the top officer in Afghanistan, General McKiernan, is being replaced for what "defense officials" described as "a conventional approach to an unconventional war." 
My initial response is sympathy for McKiernan. I've never met the man, but from what I've heard and read he seemed to be a fairly well-respected leader. The man has been pulled in many different directions by many different plans and sub-plans, none any clearer than the next. Like Gumby, he is stretched in too many directions, in this case by constantly changing leaders, plans, and instructions. Perhaps the Pentagon brass think they can replace have the top guy be a scapegoat and hope the next guy magically brings one with him.
All that being said, his replacement will be Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, and someone with special ops experience is exactly what we need in a difficult situation like Afghanistan. Hopefully McChrystal will be able to work more closely with the Afghani population while also focusing much more careful attacks on true al Qaeda targets and minimizing civilian casualties. 
Likewise the civilian leadership has an obligation to McChrystal not to hang him out to dry, stretch him in too many directions, or constantly change plans from under his feet. 

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