I don’t have any special insight into today’s command shake-up in Afghanistan, but I like it. It seems to me that if you have a new administration implementing a new strategy in an ongoing war, that it makes perfect sense that a new person would be brought it to implement it. General McChrystal’s area of specialty is apparently in special operations and he’s well-versed in counterinsurgency; that all seems very appropriate given the strategy the administration’s outlined for Afghanistan.
Interestingly, according to Spencer Ackerman there wasn’t really any huge trouble with General McKiernan: “I’ve heard grumblings about McKiernan being slow to adapt to the complexities of the Afghanistan war, but nothing that you’d hang your hat on, or rise to the level of outright dissatisfaction.”
One way to read that is that there must be some hidden problem. But optimistically, I think it’s just evidence of good decision-making. If McKiernan wasn’t the best man for the job, then replacing him with someone who Robert Gates and David Petraeus believed would do a better job is the right call. There’s no reason to have waited around with a non-optimal commander in place merely because he hadn’t done anything egregious.