Lawmakers on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee say General Stanley McChrystal's comments to Rolling Stone magazine were unfortunate, inappropriate and out of line with a military officer. Senators on the committee welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to replace the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan with General David Petraeus.
The magazine article titled The Runaway General has General McChrystal and his staff making sharp, mocking or otherwise unflattering comments about President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James Jones and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, Senator Carl Levin, says the United States cannot afford to have distractions like this at a time of war.
The Michigan Democrat says a confirmation hearing on the nomination of General Petraeus will take place no later than Tuesday. He says General Petraeus provides strength and continuity to the war effort, as he was the architect of the counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq that is now being used in Afghanistan. "For many reasons, General Petraeus is a solid choice to take over in Afghanistan," he said.
The top Republican on the committee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, says he applauds the choice of General Petraeus, describing him as the best qualified leader to bring the war to a successful close. He says the comments attributed to General McChrystal and members of his staff were inappropriate. "There is a role for the military in our society and that role is that you not only obey civilian leadership, but you respect civilian leadership and if you don't,then you resign," he said.
McCain says General Petreaus will be asked in the confirmation hearing about President Obama's plan to start withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan next year. He says there is confusion over whether the date could change depending on conditions on the ground. "We feel very strongly that it needs to be conditioned based, because if you tell the enemy when you are leaving, then obviously, it has an adverse effect on your ability to succeed," McCain said.
McCain, a decorated military officer who was a POW in the Vietnam War, says the United States needs to send the message that it will do whatever is necessary to win the war, even if that means a longer war or sending more troops.
Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut, says McChrystal made unfortunate and inappropriate comments and revealed what has already been known, that there is a lack of unity in Afghanistan between civilian and military leadership. "I hope we have turned a corner here, and every member of the team - civilian and military - will now work with and behind the commander in chief in achieving the success that we need to achieve in Afghanistan," he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham says the president had no other choice than to replace General McChrystal. The South Carolina Republican, who has served most of his adult life as a military officer, says the changes shouldn't stop with that top general. "This is a low point, in my view, for the armed forces in a very long time and I am glad the president made this decision and some other officers need to be looked at and they need to be replaced," he said.
Senators on the committee are pledging to move fast on General Petraeus' nomination and move it quickly to the full Senate for confirmation.