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Report: McKiernan firing shows new urgency

Aug. 17, 2009 at 8:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The May firing of the top U.S. military commander in Kabul revealed the urgency felt in Washington over Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Citing interviews with unnamed key participants and senior officials who have direct knowledge of the situation, the Post reported that Gen. David McKiernan was considered too languid and lacking in charisma and political savvy to lead the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan at a time when President Barack Obama is seeking rapid success.

"There are those who would have waited six more months" to fire McKiernan, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Post. "I couldn't. I'm losing kids and I couldn't sleep at night. I have an unbounded sense of urgency to get this right."

Part of McKiernan's problem, sources said, is that he suffered in comparison to Gen. David Petraeus, who took over as commander in Iraq in 2007.

"Blame General Petraeus," a senior Defense Department official told the Post. "He redefined during his tour in Iraq what it means to be a commanding general. He broke the mold. The traditional responsibilities were not enough anymore. You had to be adroit at international politics."

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