U.S. commander fires Army general for criticizing Afghan leaders

KABUL (BNO NEWS) -- U.S. Marine Corps General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, fired a senior U.S. Army general on Friday after he criticized Afghan leaders during an interview.

Major General Peter Fuller, Deputy Commander of the NATO effort to train and equip Afghan security forces, told the U.S. political website Politico this week that senior Afghan officials have not fully recognized the sacrifices in "treasure and blood" the United States is making for their security.

U.S. military officials said he showed 'extremely poor judgment' during the interview, which led Allen to relieve him of his duties. "These unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan," he said.

Allen added: "The Afghan people are an honorable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission - bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan."

Fuller had expressed irritation over remarks by Afghan President Hamid Karzai who recently said that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the United States. American officials, however, have previously said Karzai had been misquoted or misunderstood.

"Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?" the two-star general was quoted as saying by Politico.

Fuller, who was visiting the United States to attend a conference, added: "When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that's more articulate in public."

The general also said he told Afghan generals during a strategic review of the U.S. mission that they don't understand 'the sacrifices' being made by the United States. "I said, 'You guys are isolated from reality.' The reality is, the world economy is having some significant hiccups. The U.S. is in this [too]," he told Politico.

"If you're in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood. They don't understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security. And I think that's part of my job to educate 'em."

Fuller said he believes the problem is a mentality left behind by the Soviets. "We didn't buy them a lot of things that they had seen bought previously by the Soviets, the tanks and the jets. So they asked for them. They say, 'Well, the Russians gave us this.'"

The general said he told the Afghans: "You're telling us that you're not appreciative of $11.2 billion from the U.S. this year? We have challenges going on in our own country, and this is our national treasure.'"

The senior U.S. official also revealed that the Afghan government had made requests for multiple F-16 fighter jets and tanks, without the budget to use or maintain them. "All I want to do is put them on a flat bed and drive them around in a parade," a senior Afghan official told Fuller, he said.

The general told Politico he often needs to beat back 'overzealous' demands from Afghan officials. "You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish. We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish! [They say,] 'I like swordfish, how come you're giving me cod?' Guess what? Cod's on the menu today."

But not everyone agreed with Allen's decision to fire Fuller, and some criticized the U.S. military for not allowing Fuller to give his opinion. "Give that man another star!" said Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

It is not the first time that a senior military figure has been fired over comments made to the media. In July 2010, Rolling Stone magazine published a history-making piece that prompted President Barack Obama's dismissal of U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the position now held by Allen.

The explosive magazine piece revealed the strategic discrepancies and political infighting that underlies the American military mission in Afghanistan. It depicted Gen. McChrystal as an outsider who didn't get along with many top officials in the Obama administration.

"How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" McChrystal was cited as saying by Rolling Stone magazine. He made the comments in Paris where he was going to meet a French minister. "I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner."

The Rolling Stone reporter, after McChrystal left, asked one of his aides who he was going to dinner with. "Some French minister. It's fucking gay," he was told.

Other comments made fun of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. "Are you asking about Vice President Biden? Who's that?" McChrystal said as he laughed. A top adviser replied: "Biden? Did you say, 'Bite me'?"

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