Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's dismissal of the top commander in Afghanistan was "extremely unfortunate" but "necessary," according to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Holbrooke told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal is a "very distinguished and fine officer."
He noted some of the barbs in the Rolling Stone magazine article that led to McChrystal's downfall were aimed at him, but Holbrooke said the story "made no difference to me" personally and didn't change his positive opinion of McChrystal.
Washington (CNN) - On paper it appeared to be a winning team for President Obama and his new plan to fix Afghanistan: a celebrated general, a master of counterinsurgency strategy overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as head of CENTCOM, with his his protege running the war in Afghanistan.
The two, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, had enjoyed success because of their military minds. Ask around the Pentagon and the phrase most often used in connection with both is "brilliant."
While coming from different paths, both generals have a good deal of similarities. After the now-infamous Rolling Stone article, however, it is clear that Petraeus alone has the savvy to survive in Washington.
An academic with political deftness, Petraeus approaches combat with a mix of military and diplomacy, the essence of counterinsurgency.
(CNN) - Military operations will need to be reduced for the rest of the year unless Congress approves additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned senators Wednesday.
"I am becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of progress on the supplemental and strongly urge Congress to complete its work on the request as quickly as possible," Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Pentagon has requested an additional $33 billion to support the added financial costs of President Barack Obama's new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, now the longest conflict in U.S. history. Gates told senators that if there is no passage of the funding by the July 4 congressional recess, "We will have to begin planning to curtail defense operations."
"Such planning is disruptive, can be costly and especially in a time of war, and I ask your help in avoiding this action," he said.
Washington (CNN) - The Pentagon will no longer shape the U.S. military to fight two major conventional wars at once, but rather prepare for numerous conflicts and not all in the same style, according to a draft of a new strategic outlook the Pentagon is announcing on Monday.
The new mantra for military planners will replace the almost 25-year-old combat planning style of fighting and winning two major conventional wars in two different locations in favor of a fighting force that is capable of protecting U.S. interests around the world from a range of threats, from terrorism to cyber attacks.
The change will be addressed in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated document that looks at future threats and the military's requirements to mitigate them.
"It is no longer appropriate to speak of major regional conflicts as the sole or even primary template for sizing, shaping or evaluating U.S. forces," according to a draft first obtained by Inside Defense.
The review will come on the same day the Pentagon presents its 2011 budget.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. military has between 12 and 18 months to show whether the war in Afghanistan will be a success, and it may have to be done with fewer troops than in Iraq, according to the top men at the Pentagon.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday, he does not underestimate the challenge in Afghanistan, but is positive they are moving in the right direction in defeating the Taliban and insurgent forces.
"We've got to reverse of trend of violence over the next 12 to 18 months, and I think it's possible," Mullen said.
"We have the strategy right, we're resourcing it right," he said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke alongside Mullen at the hearing and warned the conflict would not be over in 18 months, but hoped to at least see a shift in the momentum.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just when we thought it would be hard to tell the faceless bureaucrats in the Obama transition office from other the 24,000 faceless bureaucrats who already work in this building, the Pentagon Pass office made it simple.
The new arrivals have been issued “Purple” badges, which make then stick out like a sore thumb.
Most pentagon badges are white. Contractors get pink.
And the press badges are blue.
Perhaps that will help the purple badge people know to shut up when they see someone with a blue badge.
The transition team –we’ve been told - is under strict order not to talk to news reporters.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Navy denied Chelsea Clinton access to a former firing range in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Navy officials said.
The Navy rejected the request because U.S. law forbids campaigning on federal property and because the Navy allows only people clearing the Vieques range of ordinance to enter the area, the officials said. They said they did not know what Clinton planned to do there.
The U.S. Navy used the long-controversial Vieques range - the majority of the island of Vieques - for bombing and artillery practice until May of 2003. It was the target of frequent protests by Puerto Ricans who objected to its use. It is now federal property being cleaned of unexploded ordnance.
Clinton - who has been campaigning for her mother, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton - is in the U.S. territory ahead of its June 1 primary. It is the largest prize left for the Democratic candidates.
Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, is also due to campaign there.