Monday, May 11, 2009

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked Monday for the resignation of Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan.

Mr. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, told reporters at a joint press conference that Special Operations chief, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, had been named as the replacement.

“A fresh approach, fresh look in the context of the new strategy was appropriate,” Mr. Gates said. Our mission there requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders.”

Gen. McChrystal will take over command of 45,000 U.S. troops and about 32,000 other troops from non-U.S. NATO countries.

Defense officials say Gen. McChrystal’s counterinsurgency combat approach is more in tune with the Obama administration’s policy to combat Taliban resurgence in the region.

Gen. McKiernan became the NATO commander in Afghanistan in June and was first interviewed by The Washington Times in Kabul shortly after he took command.

He had asked the administration for more troops as the security situation deteriorated over the past year.

U.S. troop deployments are expected to rise to 68,000 by 2010, more than double the 33,000 U.S. troops in the country in December.

When Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with President Obama at the White House last week, reports of civilian casualties during the U.S. air strikes in Farah province were a key concern.

Mr. Karzai has long been outspoken about the need to minimize air strikes by the U.S. because of civilian deaths, which he said undermines his countries ability to quell the growth of the Taliban.

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