On March 27th, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new strategy in the war against extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan:
"There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban. They must be met with force, and they must be defeated. But there are also those who have taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price. These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course. That is why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province."
The new strategy requires a new way of thinking, and different approaches from our military leaders, said U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates:
"Today we have a new policy, set by our new President. We have a new strategy, a new mission, and a new Ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed."
Secretary Gates proposed to replace General David McKiernan, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, and of NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), with Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the former Chief of Joint Special Operations Command.
In Lieutenant General McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Gates has recommended for command a man who is famous in the Army for his discipline and attention to detail: qualities that will benefit President Obama's new military effort in Afghanistan. Lieutenant General McChrystal's most recent posting was in Iraq, where, as Special Operations Commander, he oversaw the capture of Saddam Hussein.
"We have a clear and focused goal," said President Obama: "To disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future."