Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NATO'S top Commander is being replaced.

This is a very big deal. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has asked for the resignation of NATO's commander in Afghanistan GEN David McKeirnan. This is an event that occurs very rarely in the U.S. military. McKeirnan was scheduled to remain in command of NATO operations for another year. To put this in perspective GEN George Casey, who's strategy in Iraq was a disaster, was allowed to serve out his term as Commander of MNF Iraq by President George W Bush and he then promoted him to Army chief of staff!!

But Bush finally overrode Casey and other senior members of the general staff and went with the counterinsurgency advocate GEN David Petraeus to turn the situation around in Iraq.

Blue, the Afghan Army vet who blogs at Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure wrote back on April 24 that he saw room for optimisim on the horizon. "Say what you will about the Obama administration's domestic policies, which this blog is not about, nor will it ever be. Somehow or other, they have managed to put together the dream team on Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have listened to them in forming the new "AfPak Policy," and when you see such men as David Kilcullen testifying before the House Armed Services Committee and hear the things that they are saying... and being taken mui seriously... there is room for hope."

Gates is reported to have consulted GEN David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command; ADM Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and President Barack Obama before requesting the resignation.

Mckeirnan (who has often been accused of "not getting" the War in Afghanistan), is being replaced by GEN Stanley McChrystal who Gates said in the press conference has a "unique skill skill set in counterinsurgency".

Gates also announced that he will nominate GEN David Rodriguez as deputy commander in Afghanistan, a newly created position. McChrystal and Rodriguez are reported to be close friends. Rodriguez was previously in command of U.S forces in Eastern Afghanistan and not under NATO/ISAF command.

What this all means is that this now very much Obama's War and is indeed cause for optimism. These moves to pure counterinurgency (COIN)involve a combination of kinetic warfare and diplomacy and are very much in keeping with what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been saying recently and is consistent with the Manley Report on Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency is about providing security to the Afghan people.

It is long overdue.

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