U.S. President Barack Obama says he has accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with regret but is certain it is the right decision for the country's national security and the future of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama said the biting comments the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan made about the president and his aides in a Rolling Stone magazine article did not meet the standards of conduct for a commanding general.
Gen. David Petraeus will take over McChrystal's role in Afghanistan, which he said will allow the U.S. to maintain leadership and momentum in the war.
Obama made the announcement following a private meeting with McChrystal and a separate meeting of his national security staff.
At the meeting with Obama, McChrystal apologized for his comments.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron said a British general is temporarily taking charge of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan following McChrystal's ouster.
Lt.-Gen. Nick Parker has assumed command "pending Gen. Petraeus's confirmation by Congress," Cameron said in a statement.
The general has told him that the mission in Afghanistan "would not miss a beat" during this period, Cameron said.
Excerpt from Rolling Stone
"Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander-in-chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank.
According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked 'uncomfortable and intimidated' by the roomful of military brass.
Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. 'It was a 10-minute photo op,' says an adviser to McChrystal.
'Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his f--king war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
— "The Runaway General," by Michael Hastings
"I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment," Obama said Tuesday after summoning the general back to Washington, D.C.
"But I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any kind of decision," Obama said Tuesday before accepting the general's resignation the next day.
The article, headlined "The Runaway General," depicts McChrystal as a lone wolf, on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.
McChrystal does not directly criticize the president, but says that waiting for Obama to approve more resources for Afghanistan was a "painful" time.
The article also quotes several aides who make critical comments about members of the Obama administration, including Vice-President Joe Biden.
"I think it's been no secret for a long time that the president's Afghanistan-Pakistan team is not functioning as effectively as it could be," said Bruce Riedel, a foreign policy expert and former CIA officer who now works with the Brookings Institution.
"I think that it is very hard to see how this team can function effectively in the aftermath of a leak like this."
Afghan leaders support McChrystal
Afghan officials said Wednesday that firing McChrystal would disrupt progress in the war and could jeopardize a pivotal security operation underway in Taliban strongholds in the south.
At the end of a one-hour video conference Tuesday night with Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his confidence in the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said.
"The president believes that we are in a very sensitive juncture in the partnership, in the war on terror and in the process of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan, and any gap in this process will not be helpful," Omar told reporters.
"We hope there is not a change of leadership of the international forces here in Afghanistan and that we continue to partner with Gen. McChrystal."
Two American service members died Tuesday following separate bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, bringing to 69 the number of international forces killed so far this month.