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Secretary Gates Replaces U.S. Commander in Afghanistan May 11, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis, News.
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Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal

Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal

May 11, 2009

In a press conference today, Defense Secretary Gates announced the replacement of America’s top general in Afghanistan. The commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, General McKiernan, is being replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. McChrystal, former Commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), is seen by Secretary Gates as having a more suitable background to the complexities of the war in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, President Obama signaled a shift in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan that relies on Special Operations forces to detect and defeat Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Along with a shift in approach toward Afghanistan, significant new resources are also going towards U.S operations in the region. In the President’s FY 2010 budget request, $7.5 billion was requested to train and equip the Afghanistan Security Forces (a 34% increase over total FY 2009 requested funding – this includes last year’s FY2009 supplemental bridge appropriation and Obama’s FY2009 supplemental request) along with $700 million for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (a new program at the Defense Department to train and equip Pakistani forces, and provide reconstruction and stabilization support to Pakistan).  Meanwhile, funds for the Iraq train and equip program were not requested for FY 2010.  This shift in resources from Iraq and towards Afghan-area operations is also reflected in total funding for FY 2010 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Of the $130 billion requested for FY 2010, $65 billion is for Afghanistan while only $61 billion is for Iraq. Thus, the replacement of Gen. McKiernan is another step in the administration’s focus on operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.



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