July 15th, 2009
12:38 PM ET
5 years ago

McKiernan 'embarrassed' by removal from top post in Afghanistan

 General David McKiernan said Wednesday he was 'more than a little embarrassed' when he was removed as the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
General David McKiernan said Wednesday he was 'more than a little embarrassed' when he was removed as the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – General David McKiernan was "dismayed, disappointed, and more than a little embarrassed" when he was ousted as the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, he said at his retirement ceremony Wednesday at Fort Myers in Virginia.

McKiernan took over the post of International Security Assistance Force Commander in June 2008. Just a year into his appointment, however, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for McKiernan's resignation, citing a need for "new thinking and new ideas" in Afghanistan.

"If you had asked me 30 days ago if I would be here today at my retirement ceremony, I probably would have said no, maybe in a bit stronger terms. Make no mistake – I was dismayed, disappointed, and more than a little embarrassed," McKiernan said.

But he eventually came to realize "it's about paying respect to your profession," he said, telling his supporters to "save your condolences for those who really need them – the families, friends and comrades of men and women who either will not return home, or whose lives have been permanently scarred by war."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also delivered remarks at the ceremony, commending McKiernan's 37-year military career.

"He has handled everything the Army and his Commander in Chief have thrown at him with supreme professionalism, intelligence, and dedication to our nation, and the men and women under his command," Gates said.

Gates also credited McKiernan with "[ably leading] a vast international military effort to secure and rebuild a country and a people who have suffered from decades of deprivation and conflict."

Gates recommended Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, currently the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to replace McKiernan.

Prior to his post in Afghanistan, McKiernan commanded all coalition and conventional ground forces that attacked into Iraq in 2003.


Filed under: Robert Gates
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. RR

    "it's about paying respect to your profession," he said, telling his supporters to "save your condolences for those who really need them – the families, friends and comrades of men and women who either will not return home, or whose lives have been permanently scarred by war."

    class act.

    July 15, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Thank you for your service General. But when we need to change course, we must change course.

    July 15, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. Sea.gem

    Outstanding, why is that most of what we see is "class" from the military when it comes to integrity and commitment and when it comes to the Left (especialy at campaign time) they are only given lip-service?

    July 15, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. McKiernan acts like a crybaby not a General

    The only thing McKiernan should be embarrassed about is the fact that he is whining and making excuses. If any regular soldier did that they would be have their butt kicked bigtime. McKiernan has been the recipient of numerous lucky breaks and career opportunities to reach one of the highest levels of military leadership. His whining is very unbecoming of an officer so I am not surprised Gates wanted to give someone else a chance to lead.

    July 15, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. IndyVoter

    Many thanks to Gen. McKiernan for his many fine years of service...I am grateful for all of the hard work and sacrifice that you have given over the years to help keep this country safe and prosperous. However, part of being a professional, especially in the Armed Services (I'm a Veteran), is that the better or more appropriate person can at any time be chosen to replace you and as a team player, you step back, ask what you can do to help, or in his case, you get out of the way. There is no shame in that. There is nothing for him to be embarrassed or dismayed about. Suck it up soldier. All in all, YOU HAVE DONE WELL!

    July 15, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. David S.

    .... enter Stanley McChrystal

    July 15, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Randolph Carter

    Hey, when did the Taliban stop being freedom fighters and start being terrorists? Did I miss something? Oh yeah, it was when they stopped fighting Russia and started fighting us. Have a nice day!

    July 15, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |