The Politics of Military Dismissals
Our new column for Pajamas Media looks at this week's firing of Lieutenant General David McKiernan, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. By our estimation, McKiernan's dismissal was the result of three factors; (1) a Taliban resurgence on the battlefield; (2) Perceptions within the Defense Department that he was the wrong man for the job, and (3) the Obama Administration's desire for a "fresh" approach to the Afghan situation.
Of those factors, McKiernan had direct control over just one--the battlefield situation in Afghanistan. He couldn't stop the sniping within the Pentagon, and when Mr. Obama began talking about change in Afghanistan (without offering specifics), McKiernan was essentially
However, General McKiernan isn't the first American commander who inherited an untenable position and was fired when failure inevitably occurred. The cases of Major General John Lucas and Brigadier General Haywood Hansell offer interesting parallels from World War II.