Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced he was replacing the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, with Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the Washington Post reports. 'We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership is also needed,' Gates said at a hastily convened Pentagon news conference. Gates also recommended that Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, a former head of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan who is serving as Gates's military assistant, be nominated to serve in a new position as McChrystal's deputy. Gates praised McChrystal and Rodriguez for their 'unique skill set in counterinsurgency.'"
The New York Times: "The move reflects a belief that the war in Afghanistan, waged against an increasingly strong Taliban and its supporters across a rugged, sprawling country, is growing ever more complex. Defense Department officials said General McKiernan, a respected career armor officer, had been removed primarily because he had brought too conventional an approach to the challenge."
The Boston Globe says McChrystal's selection "marks the continued ascendancy of officers who have pressed for the use of counterinsurgency tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan that are markedly different from the Army's traditional doctrine… McKiernan, an armor officer who led US ground forces during the 2003 Iraq invasion, was viewed as somewhat cautious and conventionally minded, according to senior officials inside and outside the Pentagon."
The AP: "President Obama plans to visit Russia from July 6 to July 8 for talks expected to focus on reducing nuclear weapons and improving US-Russian relations. The trip will precede the July G-8 meeting in Italy."