Alex Wong/Getty Images North America
President Obama named Gen. Petraeus to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as top commander of the U.S. Force in Afghanistan.
In the Rose Garden at the White House, President Obama announced that he has accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal — "with considerable regret, but with certainty that it's the right thing to do," calling it "a difficult decision."
The president has chosen to appoint Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the United States Central Command (US CENTCOM), to replace McChrystal, urging Congress to confirm him as quickly as possible.
Following the release of "The Runaway General," a Rolling Stone profile of McChrystal, the White House recalled the now-former top American commander in Afghanistan.
Earlier today, Obama met with him in the Oval Office, then with his national security team in the White House Situation Room.
In his statement, the president said that critical comments and bawdy jokes by McChrystal and his aides, quoted in the article, were damaging and inappropriate.
"I welcome debate among my team, but I won't tolerate division," he told reporters.
Obama said he was particularly distressed by remarks that disparaged civilian officials, including Amb. Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"It undermines the civil control for the military that is the core of our democratic system, and it erodes the trust that is necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan," he said.
According to the president, it is important for everyone in the military to follow protocol, to respect the chain of command.
His choice of Petraeus, who is widely credited with changing the momentum of the war in Iraq, as commander of the multi-national force there, is a safe pick, although it has surprised some analysts.
(Earlier today, before the president made his announcement, we noted Petraeus had made no public comments about McChrystal.)
Obama said it is important to move forward, adding he is looking forward to working with his entire national security team — including Petraeus — to win the war in Afghanistan.
"We have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibility to one another, and our troops who are in harm's way, and to our country," he said. "We need to remember what this is all about."
Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don't flinch in the face of difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere.