President Obama today relieved embattled Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his position as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, replacing him with General David Petraeus, currently head of United States Central Command.
McChrystal's comments, as detailed in the Rolling Stone article, "does not meet the standards that should be set by a commanding general," the president said. "It undermines the civilian control of the military... and it erodes the trust that is necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."
The president praised McChrystal for his "deep intelligence" and "love of the country," but made it clear the comments McChrystal and his aides made could jeopardize the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
"All Americans should be grateful for Gen. McChrystal's remarkable career in uniform, but war is bigger than any one man or woman," the president said. "I believe it is the right decision for our national security."
The embattled general met Obama for about 30 minutes this morning and returned to his home in Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C., without attending the national security meeting.
Even before McChrystal's meeting with Obama, the White House had asked the Pentagon for a list of possible replacements, even though administration officials insisted a decision would not come until after McChrystal has made his case to the president.
McChrystal was prepared to resign but did not want to decide until he had met with Obama, a source close to the general said earlier today.
His behavior was "immature, irresponsible and unprofessional," retired Gen. George Joulwan said today on "Good Morning America."
McChrystal admitted during his round of phone calls to top Obama administration officials that he had "compromised the mission," a senior administration source told ABC News.
Whether he did so irrevocably was at the top of the agenda in McChrystal's Oval Office meeting with Obama this morning. The president likely pressed him as to what he was thinking when he made disparaging remarks about the president and his national security team that were reported by Rolling Stone. He was also asked whether he still had the ability to serve as commander of 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after making remarks that, if said about the general by an underling, would ordinarily be grounds for a staffer's dismissal.
Officials described the reaction within the West Wing as immediate anger and certainty that McChrystal be fired, followed by a willingness to hear the counterargument given the importance of the war, its perilous state, the fact that the story revealed no policy disagreements, how closely tied McChrystal is with the current strategy, and the fact that Gen. David McKiernan was dismissed from the same job last summer.
On Tuesday, Obama said McChrystal and his team showed "poor judgment," but that he wanted to meet with him face to face before making a decision on whether to fire him.
Officials feared that McChrystal's influence would be diminished and could jeopardize the momentum of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. At the same time, officials realized how closely tied McChrystal was with the current counterinsurgency strategy, and the fact that Gen. David McKiernan was dismissed from the same job last summer could cause upheaval in operations on the ground.