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Sacked McChrystal retires from army

The general sacked by Barack Obama as Afghanistan's coalition commander has ended his 34-year army career in a retirement ceremony at his Washington military headquarters.

General Stanley McChrystal's retirement marked the last chapter of his swift and stunning fall from grace.

He inspired intense loyalty among many of those who served under him as International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) chief in Afghanistan, but was sacked last month after Rolling Stone magazine published an article quoting scathing remarks he and his aides made about their civilian bosses.

An aide close to the general, Colonel Charles Flynn, said General McChrystal had not made any employment decisions and planned to live in northern Virginia after moving out of his home in Washington's Fort McNair.

General McChrystal complained that President Obama had handed him "an unsellable position" on the war and the general's closest advisers mocked other government officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, as fools ignorant of the complexities of war.

General McChrystal said goodbye before a few hundred friends, family and colleagues on the Fort McNair parade grounds, where the VIP-studded crowd wilted in an oppressive July heatwave.

Soldiers attending the ceremony were allowed to forgo their formal dress uniforms for combat fatigues, a seeming tribute to a war commander fresh from battle and whose career was marked by more secret operations to snatch terror suspects than by pomp and circumstance.

Wearing his own army combat uniform for the last time, the four-star general received full military honours, including a 17-gun salute from four howitzers and flag formations by the US Army's Old Guard.

He smiled and nodded at members in the crowd and appeared to joke with defence secretary Robert Gates, who had a hand in sacking him, albeit reluctantly. And Mr Gates gave McChrystal a hero's tribute.

"Over the past decade, arguably no single American has inflicted more fear, more loss of freedom and more loss of life on our country's most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal," Mr Gates said.

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