In light of the recent resignation of former NATO and U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen commented on their support of President Barack Obama’s decision to install David Petraeus as McChrystal’s replacement, both stating McChrystal showed poor judgment in his profile in a recent Rolling Stones article.
Gates and Mullen said McChrystal’s criticism of the president and administration officials was too harsh to allow for him to stay as commander. Gates said the situation “has made his continued service in that post and as a member of the national security team untenable.” He added, “The statements and attitudes reported in the news media are unacceptable under our form of government, and are inconsistent with the high standards expected of military leaders.”
Mullen also offered his support of the president’s acceptance of McChrystal’s resignation. He said: “We do not have that luxury, those of us in uniform. We do not have the right, nor should we ever assume the prerogative, to cast doubt upon the ability or mock the motives of our civilian leaders, elected or appointed.”
Although there is concern over the changing leadership at such a critical time, Mullen and Gates see Petraeus as more than capable to continue the efforts in Afghanistan.
According to Gates, a major key to the counterinsurgency strategy is making sure the military does not lose focus. Obama’s decision to appoint Petraeus as McChrystal’s successor is vital to that mission.
“The selection of General Petraeus was so important, in my view,” Gates said. “Now the president has established the strategy, but from my perspective, General Petraeus will have the flexibility to look at the campaign plan and the approach and all manner of things when he gets to Afghanistan, assuming Senate confirmation.”
Mullen and Gates also offered their praise for McChrystal’s service as commander. They called him a “fine soldier and a good man,” and reiterated his efforts have laid the foundation for further success.