Thursday, June 11, 2009

New U.S. commander in Afghanistan approved by Senate

New U.S. commander in Afghanistan approved by Senate
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stanley McChrystal won Senate confirmation on Wednesday as an Army general and U.S. commander in Afghanistan after a plea for Republicans to end procedural delays and let him start overseeing the war.
The Senate approved President Barack Obama's nomination of McChrystal on a voice vote after Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid complained the former Green Beret was among 20 nominees who had been stalled by Republicans, one dating back to mid-March.
Senate Republicans have been in a number of disputes with Democrats and have frequently refused to provide the unanimous consent needed to move quickly on legislation and nominees.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid said he had received a telephone call from Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking for prompt action on McChrystal, who was approved by a Senate committee last week.
Reid quoted Mullen as saying: "Senator, there is a sense of urgency that General McChrystal be able to go to Afghanistan tonight. There is no commander in Afghanistan. ... McChrystal is literally waiting by an airplane."
Reid added, "Let's get the man approved tonight so he can go."
Senate Republicans then moved to confirm McChrystal, who had been a lieutenant general until his promotion, and two other military nominees.
Army General David McKiernan was dismissed last month as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and McChrystal was picked to replace him to oversee Obama's strategy against a growing Taliban insurgency.
Violence in Afghanistan has surged to its highest levels since the 2001 U.S. invasion toppled the Taliban, which had harbored the al Qaeda militant network responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
McChrystal will take over command of the 45,000 U.S. troops and 32,000 forces from other NATO countries now in Afghanistan.
In June 2006, then-President George W. Bush offered public congratulations to McChrystal, whose secret unit had tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the head of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in an Air Force bombing raid.
(Additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: Reuters

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