After meeting with President Obama for less than 30 minutes this morning, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved of command.
Obama announced in the Rose Garden that he had chosen Gen. David Petraeus to replace McChrystal in Afghanistan, calling it "a change of personnel" but "not a change of policy."
Earlier on Wednesday, White House sources confirmed that McChrystal wouldn’t be attending the previously scheduled Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy meeting in the White House Situation Room, but declined to comment on whether McChrystal had been relieved of his duties after he made comments critical of his civilian commanders, including Vice President Joe Biden, in a Rolling Stone magazine profile. His resignation has been expected by some in the military.
For an administration that has been famously devoid of drama, the entire episide was produced by the West Wing as a melodrama. McChrystal's fate was kept intensely secret until just moments before Obama's statement, which he delivered in 93 degree heat in front of reporters in jackets. Even Robert Gates, the stately and tough head of the Pentagon, broke his statue stance to wipe sweat from his brow.
The road forward may be no less dramatic. With Gen. Petraeus in charge, Obama hopes the mission to fight al Qaeda insurgents can continue unchanged. "We need to remember what this is all about," Obama said. "Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don't flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere."