Obama Fires Gen. McChrystal, Installs Gen. Petraeus

Washington – President Barack Obama Wednesday fired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama turned to Army Gen. David Petraeus to command the war. Petraeus, who led the Iraq war in 2007 and 2008, is now commander of the U.S. Central Command.

Obama met earlier in the Oval Office with the 55-year-old general, ordered back to Washington after release of a magazine article in which McChrystal and his aides ridiculed many members of the Obama administration’s war council, including Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser James Jones and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

McChrystal left the White House after the brief meeting, which lasted less than half an hour.

McChrystal, who was recalled from Afghanistan for the meeting, met first with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, then began his meeting with Obama at 9:51 a.m. About 30 minutes later, the general left the White House.

McChrystal had been scheduled to participate in person in a midday meeting on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy with Obama and top administration officials, including some of those whom he and his staff had insulted. As that closed-door meeting started, White House aides wouldn’t say whether the general would be in the room after all. He usually participates in the weekly meeting by video teleconference

The mood among McChrystal’s supporters at the Pentagon was despondent as he walked out of the White House, especially given the relatively short length of his meeting with the president. Some began questioning whether the military can succeed in Afghanistan without McChrystal. Many military leaders were convinced that the general is irreplaceable and one of the armed forces’ best counterinsurgency experts.

“We are screwed,” one military officer, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the highly sensitive nature of the developments, said as he watched images of McChrystal leaving the White House. “We are so screwed.”