WASHINGTON — A top U.S. general in Afghanistan was relieved of duty Friday for "inappropriate public comments" after calling the Afghan government "isolated from reality" and President Hamid Karzai "erratic."
Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander for training Afghan security forces, blasted the Afghan government, military and Karzai in an interview with POLITICO published on Thursday.
He called Karzai "erratic" for recently saying Afghanistan would side with Pakistan if the latter declared war on the U.S.
"Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle!," Fuller was quoted as saying. "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 also said he had trouble explaining to Afghan officials that Western funds were limited. "You guys are isolated from reality" he said he told Afghan generals. "If you're in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood."Vote: Was military right to fire general over Afghan comments?
"I actually had someone senior tell me, 'All I want to do is put them [tanks] on a flat bed and drive them around in a parade'," he added.
Fuller said Afghan leaders "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 was relieved of duty by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.
"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 in a statement.
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.Story: Cash flows, but can Afghan training legacy last?
It was not clear what Fuller would do next, but such disciplinary action usually ends military careers.
In June 2010, Gen. Stanley McChrystal resigned as the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan after disparaging remarks about civilian bosses in a Rolling Stone magazine article. He retired from the Army a month later and went on to teach at Yale University.
NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube, as well as The Associated Press, contributed to this report.