McKiernan appeared to be doing a creditable job in Afghanistan. He did not have enough troops. He asked for more troops. He did a remarkable job as commander of the ground force in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not as the maneuver commander but, rather as the man who had the moral courage and integrity to stand up to the civilian ideologues in Rumsfeld's Pentagon and demand enough force to make the invasion succeed.
McKiernan is not a West Pointer and McChrystal appears to have been there when Petraeus was a cadet. Can it be as simple as that? Surely this is not some scheme hatched out in "Benny Haven's Tavern." No. It can't be that. LTG Rodriguez is apparently McChrystal's West Point classmate? How is that going to work out? He is Gates' military assistant at present. Personal relationships are always a factor.
McChrystal's background is in light infantry units like the 75th Ranger Regiment and in counterterrorist commando operations like the Joint Special Operations Command which he headed for five years. This is not COIN. Counterinsurgency is about armed nation building. Counter-terrorism is about killing enemy terrorists.
What is the message in this change? McChrystal's background, his "issues" over supposed abuse of prisoners by his commandos in Iraq and a reputation for operational aggressiveness do not "telegraph" the coming of a policy aimed at a political settlement in Afghanistan.
This sounds like a paradigm shift in which Obama's policy of destroying the leadership of Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan takes priority over everything else.
I might like this. pl