May 12th, 2009
12:47 PM ET

Gates replacing top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the situation in Afghanistan on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/11/afghanistan.replacement/art.mcchrystal.gi.jpg caption="Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be taking command of NATO forces in Afghanistan."]


The United States replaced the top allied commander in Afghanistan on Monday, deciding "fresh eyes" are needed to reverse the course of the seven-year-old war there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Gen. David McKiernan, who has held the post for less than a year, will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a former special operations chief, Gates announced. He told reporters there was "nothing specific" behind McKiernan's removal, but that "new leadership and fresh eyes" were needed in a war that Washington admits it is not winning.

"We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed," Gates said.

McKiernan will remain in place until the Senate confirms the appointments of McChrystal and his designated deputy, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez. Both have previous experience in Afghanistan and more history with counterinsurgency operations than McKiernan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Pentagon • Robert Gates
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. john shelton

    Great move on secretary Gates part. A change of command especially one from the former administration can only catapult better results. Afganistan has deterred many nations over the years in trying to keep it's poppy trade open to the free market with little or no oversight, much like Wallstreet. Without this perpetual trade going on, there would be no war, especially a sectarian war. Lets face it the hard liners of sunni Islam must number less than 10% of the fighting forces of the Taliban. Again we mush strike out unilaterly not giving any of our plans to the corrupt and greedy Pakistan and Afganistan regimes in order to succeed. God bless us all, May Muhammad and Jesus stand as one in this capital war.

    May 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Trevino

    I guess a replacement is suppose to make us feel more secure. It doesn't make me feel more secure it worries me even more. They are now admitting that we are not winning this war, so I really hope this change gets us on the winning track or we can freaking pull out of this war instead of having our troops die for nothing

    May 12, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  3. earle,florida

    I personally think it's time to rid the Obama Administration of all Bush/Cheney left-overs,and that includes Gates!

    May 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  4. Terry, TX

    Wow having to replace a commander...what diplomacy with the moderate Taliban didn't work....the UN letter of complaint impressed nobody...can't send NATO ...they are landlocked...so the capture and release program doesn't apply....don't forget N Korea, Iran and 60 nuclear weapons in Pakistan....oh Gates can't forget the moral boosters responsible for the memos of enhanced interrogation and pictures....toooo. Well I say Eric Holder, Nancy Pelosi, and Janet Napolitano should lead the troops....and in that order....Nancy and Janet...they got your back Eric.

    May 12, 2009 at 2:21 pm |