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McChrystal incident a 'learning moment'

By Ed Hornick, CNN
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation was accepted by President Obama.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation was accepted by President Obama.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation
  • Retired Gen. Russel Honore says resignation can serve as a lesson
  • McChrystal being replaced by Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command
  • Expert says Petraeus is a good choice to carry out the Afghanistan mission

Washington (CNN) -- Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation as top commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday should be looked at as a learning lesson, a former general said.

"We will all learn from it, and it will be a learning moment for the military as well as for people in Washington," said retired Army Gen. Russel Honore, a CNN contributor. "It will remind all of those in uniform that we live by a code of conduct, and we live by a uniformed code of military justice. ... It will remind us of that pledge and that oath that we will obey those [civilian] officers appointed over us."

President Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation "with considerable regret" and nominated Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, to take his place.

The moves come in the wake of politically explosive remarks about about key administration officials -- including Vice President Joe Biden -- made by McChrystal and his aides in a Rolling Stone magazine profile of the general to be published Friday.

The consequences of McChrystal's resignation is a positive thing, a foreign policy expert said.

"I think the consequences frankly are more positive than negative," said Steve Clemons, the director for the American Strategy Program at the nonpartisan New America Foundation.

He noted Obama's decision sends a clear signal that the mission will continue.

"Obama is indicating that he doesn't want to shift at all, at least in the time being, the military strategy," Clemons said. "It's a very strong signal that this was not about strategy."

Clemons added that to some degree, replacing McChrystal with Petraeus showed the president is doubling down on the counterinsurgency approach.

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"Petraeus really knows at a granular level the entire operation, and he's familiar with not only the entire operation; he's been meeting with these people regularly in both Pakistan and Afghanistan sides. So he's wedged into this," he said.

CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said Petraeus was tapped to lead the mission because he knows the strategy and can go tomorrow and pick it up.

"And because he has the credibility of the United States Congress and around the world," King added.

But how are service members in Afghanistan taking McChrystal's resignation?

"While some blow off speculation that the general may be replaced as 'back-home talk,' the fact remains that they are fighting in this hostile swath of Afghan desert by the general's design, waging a brand of counterinsurgency campaign that bears his [McChrystal] signature," Time magazine's Jason Motlagh reported Wednesday from Marjah, Afghanistan.

Marine Lt. Colonel Brian Christmas, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, told Motlagh that news of McChrystal's predicament is, for now, "outside [the] box."

"However, if changes up the chain of command start to undermine the counterinsurgency strategy that he's following, he adds, 'then that becomes a real concern,' Motlagh wrote.

"Another officer agreed that given the slow progress, 'any [potential] loss of momentum' arising from the general's departure would be "bad for the mission."