- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

President Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. and NATO missions in Afghanistan promised Tuesday to conduct swift and precise attacks on insurgents, but he added that there is no deadline for success and that some errors are inevitable.

“Success will not be quick or easy,” Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Casualties will increase, and we will make mistakes.”

If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Gen. McChrystal will replace Gen. David D. McKiernan, who was dismissed last month.

Minimizing civilian casualties and winning support from the Afghan people are “essential to our credibility,” said Gen. McChrystal, adding that he expects the security situation will improve in the next 10 to 24 months.

Gen. McChrystal, who served as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command for Iraq and Afghanistan, said precise, surgical attacks would be intelligence-driven and would require non-military support from U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and others.

Mr. Obama wants to add more than 20,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan this year, bringing the total to about 68,000.

Gen. McChrystal said that in addition to insurgents, the county is also hobbled by government corruption and the drug trade.

He said success in Afghanistan is tied to stabilizing neighboring Pakistan, which he called a “sanctuary” for guerrilla forces.

Gen. McChrystal is expected to win confirmation with little opposition. But his handling of the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former National Football League star killed by friendly fire in April 2004, remained a concern among lawmakers.

Gen. McChrystal approved a Silver Star citation several days after Cpl. Tillman’s death, then sent a memo warning senior government officials that allied soldiers might have accidentally shot Cpl. Tillman.

The general said Tuesday that he hastily approved the documents for the Silver Star because he wanted to award it before Cpl. Tillman’s 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.”

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

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