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April 19, 2011

Afghanistan general Stanley McChrystal cleared of wrongdoing

Afghanistan general Stanley McChrystal cleared of wrongdoing

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal at ISAF HQ in August 2009.
Image: U.S. Army/Sgt. David Alvarado.

A Pentagon inquiry has cleared General Stanley McChrystal of any misconduct after he left his position of commander of the United States forces in Afghanistan after a Rolling Stone article reported his military aides made belittling comments about government officials.

The Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings, published on June 22, 2010, quoted one of McChrystal’s military aides giving Vice President Joe Biden the nickname “Bite me” and another aide referring to General James L. Jones as “a clown.”

President Barack Obama accepted McChrystal’s resignation at the release of the article, stating the conduct presented in the article “does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general.”

The inquiry report stated there was not enough evidence to confirm the events reported in the article and cleared McChrystal, his military aides and civilian advisers of all wrongdoing.

“Not all of the events at issue occurred as reported in the article,” the inspector general’s report stated. “In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we confirmed that the general substance of an incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article.”

The inspector general’s team interviewed some fifteen people reported to be involved in the incidents, and found contradictory evidence on the comment regarding the vice president.

The interviews confirmed that someone had made a comment about Biden and “and that the rejoinder may have included the words ‘bite me,'” though the report states investigators “were unable to establish the exact words used or the speaker.”

Hastings and Rolling Stone editors maintain that the article is truthful, with executive editor Eric Bates stating the article is “accurate in every detail.”



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  • “US military commander in Afghanistan dismissed by President Obama” — Wikinews, June 25, 2010

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June 24, 2010

US military commander in Afghanistan dismissed by President Obama

US military commander in Afghanistan dismissed by President Obama

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

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General Stanley McChrystal, the top military commander for the US army in Afghanistan, was dismissed by president Barack Obama Wednesday, over controversial comments he made in an interview with a magazine.

Stanley McChrystal

David Petraeus

McChrystal will be replaced by General David Petraeus. The move was made after McChrystal and the president held a thirty-minute meeting Wednesday to discuss McChrystal’s comments to the Rolling Stone magazine, in which he was portrayed as dismissive about the administration’s handling of the Afghanistan war.

In one comment, when asked about vice-president Joe Biden, the general replied with “Are you asking about Vice-President Biden? Who’s that?”; in another remark, he mentions an email from the US’ special Afghanistan and Pakistan representative, Richard Holbrook, saying: “Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke […] I don’t even want to open it.” One of the McChrystal’s aides also described national security adviser James Jones as being a “clown… stuck in 1985”.

Obama commented that the move was “a change in personnel but not a change in policy”. “I believe it is the right decision for our national security. I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal […] nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult,” he said, commenting also: “The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”

McChrystal, meanwhile, released a statement regarding the incident: “I strongly support the president’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment — and a desire to see the mission succeed — that I tendered my resignation.”

The general’s assistant who organised the Rolling Stone interview, Duncan Boothby, also resigned over the article.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, meanwhile responded to Obama’s move, saying he believed McChrystal was the best commander in the nine years since the US began operations in his country.

“General McChrystal was an important and trusted partner for the Afghan government and Afghan people and we hoped this wouldn’t happen,” said Waheed Omer, a spokesman for Karzai. “However, this is an internal matter for the US government and we respect the decision of President Obama. We are looking forward to working with General Petraeus, a very experienced soldier, who President Karzai knows well.”



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  • “Obama ‘angry’ with Afghanistan general Stanley McChrystal” — Wikinews, June 23, 2010

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May 22, 2010

English footballer Beckham visits British troops in Afghanistan

English footballer Beckham visits British troops in Afghanistan

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

English footballer David Beckham is to visit Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to speak with British service personnel

English footballer David Beckham today arrived in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the location of some of the most fierce fighting in the ongoing battle against the Taliban insurgency and the location of approximately 8,000 British soldiers and Royal Marines on a “morale boosting” mission. It is expected that he will spend the weekend in the country, visiting both Camp Bastion and the Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

Thirty-five year old Beckham, former captain of the England national football team, left on Friday, telling reported that he had “nothing but admiration” for the personnel serving in Afghanistan and that he had “wanted to visit Afghanistan for a long time and I hope that in some small way it helps remind everyone at home what an amazing job they are doing out here in very difficult conditions. I feel very humble.”

The footballer will hold a question and answer session with British troops. He said that the hoped “to do something useful” in Afghanistan, having missed out on the upcoming World Cup due to injury. Beckham is also due to meet groups of Afghan children as well as other soldiers serving in Helmand, including Canadian, Dutch and Estonian forces.

William Hague with Hillary Clinton at a meeting last week where the two politicians declared their unity in their approach to Afghanistan

Three British cabinet ministers, including Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell also arrived in Afghanistan today on a separate, diplomatic, mission. They met with American General Stanley McChrystal, the NATO commander in the country and will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai later today in the first official visit from the United Kingdom to Afghanistan since the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was formed after the UK general election two weeks ago.

Hague, who discussed Afghanistan with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, described the operation in the country as “our most urgent priority” while Fox emphasised that he wished to see a speeding up of the process leading to the withdrawal of British troops, saying “[n]ational security is the focus now. We [the United Kingdom] are not a global policeman.”

Beckham’s visit comes as the deployment in southern Afghanistan is being restructured, with the southern command being split up into two commands, one under the command of an American two-star general and the other commanded by a British major-general. As Beckham was flying out, news broke that a Royal Marine had been killed in an explosion in Helmand.



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January 2, 2010

Afghanistan\’s parliament rejects Karzai\’s cabinet nominations

Afghanistan’s parliament rejects Karzai’s cabinet nominations

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Image: US Federal Government.

The Afghan parliament has rejected president Hamid Karzai’s nominees for his new cabinet. Karzai had nominated 24 persons to fill vacancies, although only seven were approved. Of the nominees rejected include incumbent Energy Minister Ismail Kha, and the incumbent minister of Women’s Affairs. It did however approve the nominees for the positions of Defense, Interior, and Finance ministers.

President Karzai will need to resubmit candidates for the vacant positions so that the government can begin its 2010 workload.

During the confirmation hearings Karzai was in the Helmand province, meeting with US commander General Stanley McChrystal. Karzai told local residents that if they want to be protected, they have to bring their sons to the national army.

“The significance of the rejection has to do with politics and Karzai’s failure to build a cabinet that spoke to a wide enough spectrum of people, and also with the weakening of his political machine,” Alex Thier, the director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan program at the United States Institute of Peace, told The New York Times.

The American embassy released a statement saying that it supports the parliaments decision approve and disapprove the nominaees.

Also announced Saturday, Afghan parliamentary elections will take place May 22, despite corruption allegations from last Augusts presidential elections.



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November 9, 2009

US Army chief of staff: more troops needed in Afghanistan

US Army chief of staff: more troops needed in Afghanistan

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Monday, November 9, 2009

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File photo of General Casey

The United States’ army’s chief of staff, General George Casey, said today that he believes more troops are needed in Afghanistan.

In a US television interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” programme, Casey said he believed additional forces are needed to cut the Taliban’s successes and train Afghan security forces. He did not, however, say how many more troops he thought should be sent to the war.

“I believe that we need to put additional forces into Afghanistan to give General McChrystal the ability to both dampen the successes of the Taliban while we train the Afghan civilian forces,” he said.

In CNN’s State of the Union programme, Casey remarked that “[t]he Army remains out of balance. But we started in 2007 with a program to get ourselves back in balance by 2011. And since 2007, we have added 40,000 soldiers to the active force, which is a significant step forward.”

President Barack Obama has been deliberating for weeks whether to deploy 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as requested by General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces there.



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October 22, 2009

US Defense Secretary Gates to seek extra aid for Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Gates to seek extra aid for Afghanistan

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

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File photograph of Robert Gates in 2006

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew to Slovakia on Wednesday, to ask NATO defense ministers to help the United States respond to the request for more resources made by the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Gates told reporters on his aircraft that he believed it makes sense to have these talks now, because he said the effort to stabilize and develop Afghanistan is a NATO mission, not just one for the US.

“This is an alliance issue and my view all along has been we ought to do this in a way that if General McChrystal has an additional set of needs, it should not be looked upon as exclusively the responsibility of the United States to respond,” the defense secretary remarked.

Gates said that since the NATO summit last spring he has seen “more energy and more commitment” among NATO nations to doing what is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. He described current consultations with NATO allies as “intense.” General McChrystal says the allied effort could fail to prevent a militant takeover in Afghanistan unless he is given more resources. In a secret request, he is believed to be asking for 40,000 or more additional troops, on top of 68,000 U.S. and nearly 40,000 coalition troops already there. President Barack Obama is expected to decide on any additional US deployment soon.

Gates added that he wanted his NATO counterparts to consider what additional commitments they can also make to help reverse gains made by the Taliban and similar groups in recent years.

“My hope is that we can have a serious discussion about how things have changed in Afghanistan since last spring, and a way forward in which the alliance can share these responsibilities and work with the Afghan government to move the situation in a more positive direction,” he said.

But the secretary noted that all contributions to the Afghanistan effort do not have to be military. He said he headed for Bratislava with a “menu of options” for allies to consider, and that much of the capability General McChrystal wanted is not controversial, such as civilian assistance, training, and financing for development projects.

Speaking early on Thursday during a visit to South Korea, Gates also welcomed the decision to hold a runoff to decide the Afghan presidential election, saying all nations involved have an interest in a smooth process to provide the winning candidate with as much legitimacy as possible.

“I think virtually all of the nations that increased their troop presence to provide security for the elections in August have kept those forces there and so are in a position to try and, along with their Afghan Army and police counterparts, provide as good a security as possible for the [runoff] elections,” he said.

Gates, however, noted that will not end problems of corruption and weak governance in Afghanistan. He said the international community will still have much work to do with any new government in Kabul to provide the kind of stability, security and services that will have a chance of convincing the Afghan people to support the government, rather than the militants of the Taliban and al-Qaida.



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October 15, 2009

UK sending additional 500 troops to Afghanistan

UK sending additional 500 troops to Afghanistan

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Map highlighting location of Afghanistan.
Image: Vardion.

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UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that an additional 500 British troops will be sent to Afghanistan. The UK currently has around 9,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

“I believe the decision we are announcing is consistent with what the Americans will decide,” Brown stated yesterday. His decision was apparently made “to meet the changing demands of the campaign, which require greater concentration of our forces in central Helmand [Province]”. A previous request for an additional 2,000 troops was denied.

After his statement media reports suggested that the decision was based on the United States agreeing in a discussion with Brown to send at least 45,000, but no more than 65,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The White House later denied that any agreement was reached or that President Barack Obama had come to a decision on sending additional troops.

“I would not put any weight behind the fact that a decision has been made, when the President has yet to make a decision. I’ve seen the report. It’s not true, either generally or specifically. The president has not made a decision,” said statement issued by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

In September it was reported that Commanding general in Afghanistan, Stanley A. McChrystal, requested an additional U.S. 40,000 troops be sent to Afghanistan stating, “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” The Washington Post reports the request was sent to the White House In August and President Obama is currently reviewing it.

There are nearly 70,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, and 35,000 troops from other nations.



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September 22, 2009

US army commander in Afghanistan asks for more troops in leaked report

US army commander in Afghanistan asks for more troops in leaked report

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A report from the new US and NATO commander in Afghanistan says there is an urgent need for more foreign troops and civilians, more Afghan forces and a new strategic approach to reverse Taliban gains. File:General Stanley A McChrystal 01.jpg

General Stanley McChrystal in June 2009
Image: NATO.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The assessment by US Army General Stanley McChrystal is still officially secret, but the Washington Post published an unclassified version on Monday, which it says has only a few deletions requested by the government.

In the document, the general, who arrived in Afghanistan in June, says “success is not ensured by additional forces alone, but continued under-resourcing will likely cause failure.”

He writes that the US and NATO effort has long been “under-resourced,” and that must change within 12 months or the coalition “risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” He says a lack of even the “minimum” resources is “a recipe for failure” in a counterinsurgency,” and the Taliban and related groups have made significant gains in recent years as a result.

The report says that “failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term [next year] — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

General McChrystal says while the Afghan government and military “must ultimately defeat the insurgency,” the coalition can not wait for the Afghans to be capable enough to do the job alone.

Although the Washington Post published most of the document on its website, Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to discuss its details, calling it “pre-decisional” and “classified.”

Cquote1.svg “success is not ensured by additional forces alone, but continued under-resourcing will likely cause failure.” Cquote2.svg

—General Stanley McChrystal

“The national security team, to include the commander-in-chief, have it. They are reviewing it. They will use it to help them make decisions about the future. The secretary [of Defense] is absorbing the assessment along with the president. If there are decisions that flow from that, they will make them at the appropriate time,” the spokesman said.

Whitman would not say when McChrystal will make his expected detailed request for more troops, or when a decision might be made.

On the president’s aircraft Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that while the general may want more troops, he does not expect a formal request for a little while. “We are going to conduct that strategic assessment and do that in a way that lays out the best path forward before we make resource decisions, rather than having this go the other way around where one makes resources decisions and then finds a strategy,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said any decision on troop levels will wait until the conclusion of a broader assessment of the way forward in Afghanistan, of which he indicated McChrystal’s document is only one part.

Last week, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates appealed for patience, saying these are extremely important decisions, and the president should be given the time to get them right. The secretary indicated he, the president and other senior officials have sent questions to McChrystal about his assessment, and are awaiting his answers.

In the document, the general was critical of NATO forces, saying that they are “poorly configured” to fight an insurgency. He says if NATO countries continue to be “pre-occupied” with protecting their forces rather than protecting the people and accomplishing the mission, they “run the risk of strategic defeat.” He said the coalition must operate “dramatically differently — even uncomfortably differently.”

He also repeated some of his earlier calls for more civilian help and a new approach by his troops that makes the security of the Afghan people their top priority. He said the coalition is in a “war of ideas,” in which he says it must demonstrate its commitment and its ability to deliver security without causing undue civilian casualties.

In an interview with Voice of America, Afghanistan Ambassador to the United Nations Zahir Tanin endorsed General McChrystal’s sense of urgency, and his view that while a comprehensive approach is needed, security comes first. “From a military point of view, I think without enough resources, without the ability to stop the Taliban’s advances, it would be very difficult to make any progress in other areas, including political progress in Afghanistan,” Tanin said.

Ambassador Tanin said McChrystal is in the best position to assess the security needs and if there is a need for more forces, the Afghan government must support such a request.

He also rejected concerns expressed by some, including Secretary Gates, that sending more foreign troops could alienate the Afghan people. The ambassador says the key for Afghans is not how many foreign troops there are or what strategy they implement, but whether they deliver security and defeat the insurgents.

In the report, McChrystal concluded that “while the situation is serious, success is still achievable.” But he said the effort needs “a fundamentally new approach” that is “properly resourced and supported” throughout the coalition and across military and civilian agencies.



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