Friday, June 25, 2010
Boss’s Firing May Result in Departures From Kabul
By ALISSA J. RUBIN
Published: June 24, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan — The business of running the war in Afghanistan went on seemingly as usual on Thursday, although many in the NATO command headquarters here were reeling over the rapid-fire events that culminated in their boss’s dismissal, forcing many of them to polish their résumés.
While no one said he was leaving, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that most of those closest to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who was fired on Wednesday by President Obama, would leave with him. That would be partly in a show of solidarity and partly because the new commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, would not request their services.
The senior people around General McChrystal, much like the top advisers to the president, serve at the general’s request. When a new commander is appointed, he almost always assembles his own team. That is somewhat more complicated in this case, because precipitous changes in the middle of a war could mean a loss of continuity and institutional knowledge.
“A lot of people will stay for the transition and then you’ll see them gradually pack up,” said a senior NATO officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak publicly on the subject. The goal is to ensure that broad policy and day-to-day operations are not interrupted.
Several NATO officials said they expected that aides to General McChrystal who were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine making disparaging remarks about senior Obama administration officials would leave, possibly sooner rather than later.
Many people are watching closely to see whether some senior figures remain, including Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who leads the intelligence operation, and Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, the deputy chief of staff in charge of operations. Both are viewed as important to the mission and both have relationships with General Petraeus, although they were also close to General McChrystal, said two NATO officers who work with them. They are also respected figures, viewed as bringing a nuanced understanding of counterinsurgency tactics.
But even those officers may leave. In particular the officer in charge of operations, a critical job, must have the complete trust of the commanding general. General Mayville’s relationship with General McChrystal might make it impossible for him to make the switch to General Petraeus.
Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the chief of communications, was among a very small group of aides who accompanied General McChrystal to Washington this week. He was scheduled to return to Afghanistan over the weekend, which suggested that he would stay on, at least for now.
As a general relieved of his command, General McChrystal will not return to Afghanistan, according to his staff.
General Petraeus is known for bringing a large and diverse team to work with him, one with civilians and military personnel. They tend to be fiercely loyal to him. In Iraq, where he served for much of the war, he had several advisory groups to ensure that he was looking at all potential solutions to different problems.
General Petraeus must be confirmed by the Senate before he can assume command.
The military said Thursday that six NATO service members died on Wednesday. Four British soldiers were killed in a vehicular accident and two Romanian soldiers were killed by a homemade bomb while on patrol.
In all, 80 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan in June, making it the deadliest month for the United States-led coalition since the war began in 2001, according to the Web site iCasualties.org.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 8:53 AM