- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal said Tuesday during his Capitol Hill confirmation hearing on leading U.S and allied forces in Afghanistan that he would conduct swift, precise attacks on insurgents — but he added that he has no deadline for success and that he would inevitably make mistakes. “Success will not be quick or easy,” he said before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Casualties will increase and we will make mistakes.”

Lt. Gen. McChrystal is President Obama’s pick to replace Gen. David D. McKiernan, who was dismissed three weeks ago.

Minimizing civilian casualties and winning support from Afghanistanis is “essential to our credibility,” said the general, adding he expects the situation will improve in the next 10 to 24 months.

Lt. Gen. McChrystal, who served as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, said the precise surgical attacks would be intelligence driven and ineffective without non-military support from U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberrry and others.

President Obama wants to double the number of U.S. troops in the country this year, to roughly 68,000.

Lt. Gen. McChrystal said that in addition to insurgents, the county also has the problems of a corrupt government and a major drug trade. He said success in Afghanistan is tied to stabilizing neighboring Pakistan, which he called a “sanctuary” for guerilla forces.

He said upon taking control of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as commander of Joint Special Operations, he found interrogation tactics followed guidelines but need improvement and that interrogators were inexperienced. The general also vowed, if confirmed, to obey international law.

“I have never condoned the mistreatment of detainees and never will,” he said.

Lt. Gen. McChrystal is expected to win confirmation with little opposition.

However, his handling of the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the NFL star killed by friendly fire in April 2004, remained a concern among Capitol Hill lawmakers.

He approved awarding Cpl. Tillman a Silver Star citation several days after his death, then sent a memo warning senior government officials that allied soldiers might have accidentally shot Tilghman.

The general said he hastily approved the documents for the Silver Star because he wanted to bestowed it upon Tillman before the funeral.

“You failed to properly notify the family of the investigation and the inaccuracies,” said Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat and committee member. “You have not been on the record, and I don’t know how you feel about it.”

Said Lt. Gen. McChrystal: “I apologize. I failed to restore the trust. That was the second tragedy of April 22, 2004.”

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