McChrystal set to retire

2010-06-29 12:17

Washington - General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last week as the top US general in the stalemated Afghanistan war, told the US Army on Monday that he will retire.

Army spokesperson Colonel Tom Collins said McChrystal, 55, notified the service of his plans.

The general submitted formal retirement papers, but it is not clear when he will leave the service because the process usually takes a few months.

In announcing McChrystal's ouster on Wednesday, President Barack Obama praised his long Army career but said his intemperate remarks in a magazine article that appeared last week could not be abided.

McChrystal apologised for the remarks in Rolling Stone magazine and flew to Washington last week to resign as commanding general of the war.

The Army has been McChrystal's only career.

Might retain rank

McChrystal was promoted to the selective and coveted rank of four-star general last year. It is not clear whether he will be able to retain that rank in retirement.

Under Army rules, generals need to serve three years as a four-star officer to retain that rank, with its prestige and retirement benefits.

The secretary of the Army can allow officers with as little as two years of service to keep their retirement rank, Collins said.

Three military and defence officials in Washington said Obama may use his power as commander in chief to allow McChrystal to keep all four stars.

McChrystal was the Pentagon's choice to run the war following a year of Taliban advances in 2008 and early 2009.

He replaced General David McKiernan, also a four-star Army general, after McKiernan was fired for failing to apply the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal represented.

McKiernan retired from the Army almost immediately.

The Senate Armed Service Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday for General David Petraeus, nominated to succeed McChrystal as the top US and Nato general in Kabul.