Gen. David Petraeus Will Replace Embattled Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan

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 Nate Fick, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security. "It's a good save."

VIDEO: Gen. McChrystal
White House Debates Gen. Stanley McChrystal's Fate

Petraeus' pick won in Republican circles and muted any criticism that could have emerged from McChrystal's removal.

"There is no one more qualified or more outstanding a leader than Gen. Petraeus to achieve successful conclusion of the Afghan conflict," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said today.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Petraeus "the right person to take over this command."

In a statement, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was similarly enthusiastic.

Obama's "decision to return General Petraeus to the battlefield provides not just continuity in philosophy, but tested diplomatic skill that is at the very center of a military strategy which hinges on progress in governance to sustain military gains," Kerry said.

But Republicans did take the opportunity to question the administration's timetable for withdrawal.

"David Petraeus is our best hope," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. "If things don't change, nobody can pull out of Afghanistan."

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.

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.

Comments made by McChrystal and his aides to freelance writer Michael Hastings highlighted the lack of trust between the military and civilian leaders, and raised widespread concern over whether that would jeopardize U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

But despite the anger in the White House over McChrystal's comments, the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai threw its full support behind McChrystal and warned that his departure could disrupt U.S.-Afghanistan partnership. McChrystal was often the intermediary between Karzai and U.S. leaders such as ambassador Karl Eikenberry, whose distrust of Karzai is well documented.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement that the group will continue to support the U.S. strategy and carry on as normal despite McChrystal's departure.

"Our operations in Afghanistan are continuing today, and they will not miss a beat," he said.

British Lt. Gen. Parker will serve as the temporary NATO commander until Petraeus is confirmed, the British government announced today.

McChrystal Steps Down: 'A Sad, Tragic Day'

President Obama was "stern" today as he proceeded through a series of meetings that resulted in McChrystal's ouster, a senior White House official said this afternoon.

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