[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/24/art.mullen.0618y.gi.jpg caption=" Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said Thursday he backs the president's decision to remove Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his command post."]Washington (CNN) - The top US military official said he backs the president's decision to remove Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his command post.
"I'm very supportive of the president's decision," Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said at a Washington event on Thursday.
President Barack Obama has tapped Gen. David Petraeus, the current commander of Central Command, to replace McChrystal as top commander in Afghanistan.
Asked if he has any individuals in mind to replace Gen. Petraeus at Centcom, Mullen said simply, "I do." and then added "but that's all I'll say."
In the meantime, Centcom will be run by Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. John Allen whom Mullen described as "extraordinary," saying "I have all the confidence in the world in him to be able to lead Centcom until this transition is complete."
Mullen said Petraeus "is fully in support of the policy" laid out by President Obama who has set a July 2011 timeline to begin gradually withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Mullen said that operations in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar present "extraordinary, complex challenges," and reiterated his belief that "Kandahar is the center of gravity for how we're moving forward in this strategy." Gen. McChrystal recently said that planned operations were not proceeding as quickly as planned.
"This is a tough, tough time," Mullen said. But Mullen said it's not all gloom and doom, adding "there is darkness just before the dawn in these kinds of operations."
"Bazaars are open, there are teachers out there now," Mullen said.
"There are leaders stepping forward in the local communities, so the indicators are moving in the right direction," Mullen said.