By Sylvia Smith
President Obama had no choice but to dismiss Gen. Stanley McChrystal for his "obvious insubordination," but the change in command won't affect the mission in Afghanistan, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said Wednesday.
He said Obama's decision to replace McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus as the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan will provide "seamless continuity."
"He's up to speed on the situation, won't need a period of time to get educated about what's going on in the country," Bayh said of Petraeus. "Given his lengthy experience with counterinsurgency, most recently in Iraq, he's ideally suited to most effectively carry out the mission."
Bayh, a member of the committee that recommended the Senate approve McChrystal's nomination to oversee the war in Afghanistan a year ago, said he was surprised at the comments McChrystal and his aides made but doesn't think they will have lasting reverberations.
"When there are disparaging remarks made about members of your own government or other leaders, it doesn't help in dealing with foreign officials. But I think this will be viewed in hindsight as a minor tempest in a teapot that will be quickly forgotten," he said.
Bayh, who most recently spent time with McChrystal in Afghanistan in December, said the former military leader "struck me as a very competent person. (But) I wonder who advised him to have someone from Rolling Stone follow him around on a regular basis or his aides apparently make drunken comments on the record. It's totally inappropriate and not very competent."
Military leaders are allowed to express differences of opinion, Bayh said, "but you've got to keep that internal. That seems to have been forgotten by the general" and his aides.
"Since the days of George Washington, civilian control of the military has been an important and honored principle in our country," Bayh said.
"From time to time, the commander-in-chief has had to take steps to ensure that continues to be the case. It would have been difficult for a commander-in-chief not to take some action in the face of such obvious insubordination and still maintain the principle of civilian control."