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Current Afghan Strategy to Continue Under New Military Command

U.S. Marines in Afghanistan (FILE)
U.S. Marines in Afghanistan (FILE)

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday the counter-insurgency strategy for Afghanistan will not be altered by the abrupt resignation of General Stanley McChrystal following the publication of disparaging remarks of top Obama administration officials by the general and his aides.

Rasmussen thanked General McChrystal for his service, while also reassuring Afghan war stakeholders.

"While he will no longer be the commander, the approach he helped put in place is the right one, said Rasmussen. "The strategy continues to have NATO's support, and our forces will continue to carry it out."

After McChrystal was removed as commander of U.S. and NATO forces on Wednesday, President Barack Obama nominated General David Petraeus, leader of the U.S. Central Command, to replace him.

Jane's Defense Weekly magazine editor Peter Felstead said McChrystal's departure may have been necessary from the perspective of the U.S. administration, but it's bad news for the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan, ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force).

"If you look at the ISAF mission, what we're trying to achieve out there, I don't really think it was necessary and I think it may have something of a halting factor on the mission at a very crucial time," Felstead said.

He added McChrystal has been the driving force behind the current counter-insurgecy strategy in Afghanistan and he's leaving as the war effort has become increasingly difficult. However Felstead believes General Petraeus is a good replacement from NATO's perspective.

"I don't think the ISAF headquarters will have wanted to see McChrystal go for any reason. But I think they'll be happy that someone with the gravitas and the counter-insurgency experience that Petraeus has will at least make them feel not so bad about McChrystal's departure."

Kabul has expressed its own dismay at McChrystal's departure. A spokesperson for Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai described the general as a "trusted partner of the Afghan people."

Jane's Defense weekly editor Felstead said it will be difficult for Patraeus to build similar ties in a short amount of time.

"A lot of what is achieved out in country is built on relationships with people like the Afghans, with President Karzai. And General Petraeus is going to have to work hard to develop those relationships in a way that McChrystal had done." said Felstead.

McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan brought tens of thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan. It was designed to cut civilian casualties and win over the local population.  General Petraeus will have to be confirmed by the U.S. senate before taking over command in Afghanistan.

VOA's Gary Thomas Examines Obama's Removal of General McChrystal

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