The Senate also confirmed Navy Adm. James Stavridis as commander of U.S. European Command and supreme allied commander for Europe, NATO’s top military post. Air Force Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Fraser was confirmed for promotion to general and to take the post Stavridis will vacate as commander of U.S. Southern Command.
All three nominations were confirmed unanimously.
McChrystal will succeed Army Gen. David D. McKiernan as top commander in Afghanistan. Stavridis will replace the retiring Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock as the senior NATO and U.S. European Command officer.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced at a May 11 news conference that he’d recommended President Barack Obama nominate McChrystal to the Afghanistan post. “I believe that our mission [in Afghanistan] requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders,” Gates told reporters. “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 is needed.”
Gates also announced his recommendation of Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, his senior military advisor, for a new position under McChrystal. En route to Brussels, Belgium, for a NATO defense ministers conference, Gates said today that Rodriguez first will serve as deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan while a new NATO command structure is put in place there. Once the new headquarters is formed, Gates said, Rodriguez would serve under McChrystal in a strictly NATO capacity as day-to-day commander of the tactical effort in Afghanistan.
Speaking at his confirmation hearing June 2, McChrystal outlined the challenges in Afghanistan.
“Afghans face a combination of challenges – a resilient Taliban insurgency, increasing levels of violence, [a] lack of governance capability, persistent corruption, lack of development in key areas, illicit narcotics and malign influences from other countries,” he said. “There is no simple answer. We must conduct a holistic counterinsurgency campaign, and we must do it well.”
McChrystal will assume command as more than 21,000 additional U.S. military personnel are slated to finish deploying to Afghanistan by October.
Before serving as director of the Joint Staff, McChrystal was the commander of Joint Special Operations command. He’s spent the majority of his military career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units.