McCain: Don't Stop With Petraeus, 'We Need a New Team'

A day after President Obama replaced the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, with Iraq War architect Gen. David Petraeus, Sen. John McCain urged the president not to stop there.

"It's completely understandable why the president made the decision that he did, based on the civilian-military relationship that goes a long way back..." McCain said today on "Good Morning America." "I also point out to the president, with my strong support of Petraeus, we also need a new team over there as well -- perhaps at the embassy and other areas."

VIDEO: Sen. John McCain, R-Az., weighs in on whether a new war strategy is needed.Play
Sen. John McCain on Obama's Change of Command

McChrystal was recalled to Washington, D.C., from Afghanistan for a Wednesday meeting with President Obama after Rolling Stone printed an profile of the general in which he and his top aides made disparaging remarks about several top U.S. officials.

The Rolling Stone article claims that the unorganized nature of the diplomatic team in Afghanistan -- featuring several officials from various offices vying for influence -- makes coordination with the military difficult.

Without discussing its causes, McCain agreed that "the relationship between civil and military is not what it should be."

In quick succession, the president met with McChrystal in the White House Wednesday, accepted his resignation, met with Petraeus just minutes later and asked him to take over the job.

McChrystal's conduct, as detailed in the Rolling Stone article, "does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general," the president said Wednesday. "It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our Democratic system, and it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."

The president praised McChrystal for his "extraordinary dedication" and "love of the country," but made it clear the comments McChrystal and his aides made could jeopardize the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Petraeus, currently the head of United States Central Command, is jokingly referred to by some in the military as a "water walker" with a near legendary ability to turn even the worst situations around.

He received enormous credit for turning the corner in Iraq where he served three different tours, the last overseeing the surge.

It will be the second time Petraeus has replaced an officer whose career was sidetracked by a magazine profile. In 2008 Admiral William Fallon lost his job at Central Command after an Esquire article put him at odds with the Bush administration.

Petraeus is expected to be on the ground in Afghanistan next week.

McChrystal Resigns 'Out of Respect for This Commitment'

In a written statement, McChrystal said he resigned out of "a desire to see the mission succeed."

"This morning the president accepted my resignation as Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan," McChrystal said. "I strongly support the president's strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment -- and a desire to see the mission succeed -- that I tendered my resignation."

On the ground, news of McChrystal's dismissal and Petraeus' new position was met with surprise, but also a sense of relief that an experienced commander will take the helm.

As one Marine told ABC News, "the softball is teed up for Petraeus to hit it out of the park."

Some Marines said the new position may be a bit of a comedown for Petraeus, 57, who is best known for turning around the Iraq war in 2007 and is widely credited with devising the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy. In September 2008, as Petraeus was leaving Iraq, Gates dubbed him the "hero of the hour."

In Washington, lawmakers also heaved a sigh of relief at Petraeus' pick, well regarded on both sides of the political aisle for his leadership in the Iraq war.

"This is the most pressing theater, the most pressing mission, and Petraeus is someone who has the relationships and has the relationship with the president, and has the experience dealing publicly with people and the press," said Nick Fate, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security. "It's a good save."

McCain: Regardless of Policy, Petraeus Will Give Advice Based on Conditions on the Ground

Obama said Wednesday that the change in personnel didn't mean a change in U.S. policy -- part of which McCain criticized today.

"I pointed out to the president that if he insists on a date-certain [withdrawal], rather than a conditions-based [withdrawal]... then we cannot succeed," the Arizona senator said of the planned 2011 troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Petraeus reaffirmed his support for the president's strategy, including the withdrawal date Wednesday, but McCain implied Petraeus' advice to the president could change as the withdrawal deadline looms closer.

"I believe Gen. Petraeus can do the job and I'm convinced Gen. Petraeus will say at the hearings that he will give his best advice to the president as to what the conditions are at the time, probably next year," McCain said.

"You cannot tell the enemy when you're leaving in warfare and expect your strategy to be able to prevail. That's just a fundamental of warfare and I know it."

Petraeus' confirmation on Capitol Hill is expected to be swift, but it is likely to refocus attention on the war in Afghanistan, at a time when the White House agenda is grappling with a multitude of domestic issues, including the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the economy.

McCain called for additional troops on the ground in Afghanistan as several other countries have also announced withdrawal plans.

"You can't do that. You've got to stay the course. You've got to win and we can win. We can succeed, but not unless we are firm that we're going to get the job done," he said.

The war in Afghanistan has become the longest war in U.S. history, and more than 1,000 troops have died there since the U.S. invaded the country in 2001.

'The Runaway General'

The profile published in Rolling Stone, titled "The Runaway General," characterized McChrystal as an outsider who did not relate well with the administration, and as a military leader who was "disappointed" with his first meeting with the president.

The article's author, Michael Hastings, said McChrystal was fully aware of the notebook and tape recorder that the freelance journalist always had in his interviews.

"It was a sort of natural kind of recklessness that General McCrystal had, that has been with him through his entire career, as I understand it, I hear from the special forces community," Hastings told ABC News' Diane Sawyer Tuesday. "Their willingness to take a risk is a part of their whole persona. And inviting me in, was a obviously a risk, as it always is when you invite a journalist in."

McChrystal and his aides criticized several top U.S. officials, including U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke -- dubbed a "wounded animal." McChyrstal also said he felt betrayed by Eikenberry for the ambassador's criticism of Karzai in a leaked cable.

One of the article's most disparaging remarks comes from an unnamed adviser to McChrystal, who described the general's first meeting with Obama.

"Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was," the aide said. "Here's the guy who's going to run his [expletive] war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed."

McChrystal himself spoke openly about the time the president criticized him for speaking too bluntly about needing more troops last fall.

"I found that time painful," McChrystal said in the article. "I was selling an unsellable position."

After news of the comments stunned the political and military circles from D.C. to Afghanistan, McChrystal quickly issued an apology for his "bad judgment."

"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a statement. "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard."

In his apology, McChrystal said he had "enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war" and said he remains "committed to ensuring its successful outcome."

Duncan Boothby, a civilian press official in Afghanistan, resigned in the aftermath of the scandal.

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf, Jake Tapper and Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.