WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has fired a senior officer from his job as the No. 2 general in charge of training for making inappropriate public remarks about Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his government.
Gen. John Allen issued a statement Friday saying that Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller has been relieved of his duties as deputy commander for the Afghan training mission.
In a recent interview with the website Politico, Fuller characterized Afghan leaders as erratic, ungrateful and isolated from reality. The interview quotes him as saying Afghan leaders don't fully recognize America's sacrifices on their country's behalf.
Referring to Karzai's recent assertion that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if Pakistan got into a war with the U.S., Fuller was quoted as calling the comments "erratic," adding, "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?"
Fuller said the Afghans have at times made unreasonable requests for U.S. assistance.
"You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish," Fuller was quoted as saying. "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."
Fuller also said the Afghans don't understand the extent to which the U.S. is in economic distress or the "sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security." He said the Afghans are "isolated from reality."
Allen said the "unfortunate comments" don't represent the solid U.S. relationship with the Afghan government.
"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," Allen said.
There was no indication whether Fuller will be reassigned or if he would retire.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was aware of Fuller's remarks. Little said Panetta has full confidence in Allen's judgment with respect to his decision in this case.
A native of Andover, Mass., Fuller was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1980 after graduating from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of arts in history and political science. He also holds a master's degree in public administration from Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa.
Associate Press writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.