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Obama fires outspoken General Stanley McChrystal

Barack Obama fired his top commander in Afghanistan last night over a series of overtly contemptuous remarks General Stanley McChrystal and some of his military aides had made to a magazine about the American civilian leadership.

The general, whose support crumbled among the civilian and even the military leadership, was rudely relieved of his command during a confrontation with the President in the Oval Office. It lasted just 30 minutes and was followed by a long-scheduled meeting of Mr Obama and his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan, without General McChrystal.

The news leaked minutes before Mr Obama gave a statement to the nation in the Rose Garden. The President confirmed he was appointing General David Petraeus to take over the top Nato command in Afghanistan.

General Petraeus, who led the successful American surge in Iraq, is an expert like General McChrystal on counter-insurgency operations and is well-known to the allies.

With General Petraeus by his side, Mr Obama insisted that his decision was not based on “any difference on policy with General McChrystal or any sense of personal insult”. But he said his remarks in Rolling Stone did “not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general”.

“It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan,” he said.

“War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a President,” Mr Obama added in his address. “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I think it is the right decision for our national security.”

The President acknowledged that it had been a “difficult” decision.

A grim-faced General McChrystal was seen ducking through a side entrance to the White House for his encounter with the President.

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