The Pentagon is replacing Gen. David McKiernan, top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, with Gen. Stanley Crystal, government sources say. Here, McKiernan is seen listening to a question from a journalist in Kabul, Afghanistan, on April 19.
Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. currently serves as the director of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was previously a director of special operations forces. McChrystal is a specialist in counter-insurgency strategy.
The exit of Gen. David McKiernan comes as more than 21,000 additional U.S. forces begin to arrive in Afghanistan, dispatched by President Obama to confront the Taliban more forcefully this spring and summer.
McKiernan, on the job about a year, has asked repeatedly for additional forces. Obama’s revamped strategy for Afghanistan does markedly increase the number of U.S. forces in the country but focuses on nonmilitary solutions as a better long-term solution.
Military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said McKiernan will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.
A U.S. defense official Defense Secretary Robert Gates was likely to announce the new leadership in Afghanistan later Monday. Obama has approved a new strategy for Afghanistan and Gates wants new leadership to carry it out, the defense official said.
McKiernan was named to his post by former President George W. Bush.
Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen scheduled a news conference during which Gates will discuss his trip to Afghanistan last week and new plans for the seven-year-old Afghan campaign, which long has taken a back seat in attention, troops and other assets to the war in Iraq.
McChrystal has had a top administrative job at the Joint Chiefs of Staff for less than a year. He is a former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.