Stanley McChrystal is out as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, to be replaced by his nominal boss David Petraeus. Some might see this as a demotion for Petraeus. Others might try to paint this as an inspired pick. Some cynics could claim that politics are a factor.
It was a logical pick. A safe pick. Afghanistan is the de facto center of gravity in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, and Petraeus understands the details as well as anyone. He also knows the military officers who can populate positions vacated by McChrystal’s deputies. And he has demonstrated a knack for working with civilians on the ground in Iraq, though whether that will translate into a similar working relationship with Amb. Eikenberry remains to be seen.
But changing commanders in Afghanistan doesn’t address the deeper problems with the strategy there that have been brought to light over the past few days (and that I’ve addressed here and here). The sad commentary is that the President of the United States shouldn’t have to rely on Rolling Stone magazine for strategic insight. If his vaunted Afghan review(s) over the past year haven’t revealed these inconsistencies, then either the reviews aren’t very vaunted, or he isn’t paying attention.