Small Wars Journal

GEN McChrystal Retires from the Army (Updated)

"Caution and cynicism is safe, but soldiers don't want to follow cautious cynics. I'd do somethings in my career differently, but not many. I believed in people, and I still believe in them. I trusted, and I still trust. I cared, and I still care. I wouldn't have had it any other way."

Casual Send-Off for an Army Maverick - Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, retired from the military Friday evening at a ceremony that replaced the pomp of military honors with a certain informality long cultivated by the general. In a nod to the way he spent much of his career on the front lines of two wars, Gen. McChrystal eschewed the Army dress blues. He instead chose to wear his fatigues—as did the ceremonial Old Guard...

There was little in Gen. McChrystal's speech, delivered at the Fort McNair parade grounds in Washington, that made direct reference to how his career ended. But he said that in his career he had learned that people don't want to follow overly cautious leaders. He trusted his people and would continue to trust them, he said. He said his service "did not end as I would have desired."

"I left a mission I feel strongly about, ended a career I loved that began over 38 years ago," Gen. McChrystal said. "And I left unfilled commitments I made to many comrades in the fight, commitments I hold sacred." ...

More at The Wall Street Journal.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's Retirement Ceremony Marked by Laughter and Regret - Greg Jaffe, Washington Post.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's farewell to the Army began Friday evening with a confession. "This has the potential to be an awkward, even sad, occasion," he said. A month earlier, McChrystal resigned from his command in Afghanistan after a Rolling Stone magazine article quoted him and his aides making derogatory remarks about senior Obama administration officials. The sunset ceremony, held at Fort McNair on the Anacostia River, marked McChrystal's retirement from the military after 34 years. "With my resignation, I . . . left unfulfilled commitments I made to many comrades in the fight, commitments I hold sacred," McChrystal said. "My service did not end as I would have wished."

The general used his goodbye to thank Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and President Obama, who forced him to leave the military and his command in Afghanistan. With those brief remarks, McChrystal seemed to go out of his way to reaffirm the principle of civilian control over the military. Mostly, though, McChrystal's speech - which was disarmingly funny, personal and often wistful - poked fun at himself, paid homage to the troops who fought for him and offered thanks to his wife...

More at The Washington Post.

McChrystal Ends Service With Regret and a Laugh - Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal retired on Friday with the full pageantry of a 17-gun salute, an Army marching band and an emotional send-off from the secretary of defense, but with his own acknowledgment that he was not leaving the military on his own terms. "Look, this has the potential to be an awkward or even a sad occasion," he told 500 guests on the historic parade ground of Fort McNair, in his first public comments since he was fired by President Obama. He added, "My service did not end as I would have wished." ...

"I have stories on all of you, photos on many," he told his old friends in the crowd. Then he suggested that he had just the method for making those stories public, adding, "And I know a Rolling Stone reporter." The crowd broke into laughter, then applause. Originally planned as a much smaller gathering, the ceremony expanded as many in the military asked to attend...

More at The New York Times.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal Retires from Army - David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal said goodbye to the Army on Friday in a poignant ceremony that paid tribute to his three decades of military service and barely mentioned his firing by President Obama for insubordination. It was McChrystal who alluded most directly to his own precipitous fall, standing at the podium and looking out at formations of soldiers and former comrades. "Service in this business is tough and often dangerous, and it extracts a price for participation, and that price can be high," McChrystal said. "If I had it to do over again, I'd do some things in my career differently, but not many."

McChrystal's remarks were the first in public by the former top commander in Afghanistan since he was summoned back to Washington in June and relieved of duty over remarks in a Rolling Stone article in which he and several aides seemed to mock and criticize civilian officials. McChrystal was replaced in Afghanistan by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. The farewell ceremony was held on a sweltering early evening on the parade ground at Ft. McNair in Washington, a few miles from the Pentagon and adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. Dressed in combat fatigues rather than dress uniform, McChrystal was joined on the reviewing stand by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, as well as McChrystal's wife, Annie. In the crowd of several hundred were soldiers, many now retired, with whom McChrystal had served in the Rangers, the 82nd Airborne Division and other units...

More at The Los Angeles Times.

McChrystal Retires Amid Praise for Career - Michael J. Carden, American Forces Press Service.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who most recently commanded all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, retired today in a ceremony here near his Fort McNair home. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called McChrystal one of America's greatest warriors and a treasured friend and colleague. "We bid farewell to Stan McChrystal today with pride and sadness," Gates said. "Pride for his unique record as a man and soldier; sadness that our comrade and his prestigious talents are leaving us.

"This consummate ranger possessed one of the sharpest and most inquisitive minds in the Army," the secretary continued. McChrystal's contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were groundbreaking, Gates said, as the general "employed every tool available" to create success on the battlefield. "Over the past decade, no single American has inflicted more fear and more loss of life on our country's most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal," he said. "Commanding special operation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Stan was a pioneer in creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations." And when violence in Iraq seemed almost unstoppable in 2006 and 2007, McChrystal and his special operators all but "crushed al-Qaida," Gates said...

More at American Forces Press Service.

var so = new FlashObject ("", "Player", "322", "277", "8", "#FFFFFF");

so.addVariable ("Environment", "");

so.addVariable ("SkinName", "embedoneclip");

so.addVariable ("SiteID", "pentagontv");

so.addVariable ("SiteName", "The Pentagon Channel");

so.addVariable ("ChannelID", "");

so.addVariable ("StoryID", "d42bcb5aa4d5f2b363f4631c0cebdbb91d4c5243");

so.addVariable ("Volume", ".5");

so.addVariable ("HostURL", document.location.href);

so.addVariable ("SWF_URL", "");

so.addVariable ("AddThisSWFWidth", "322");

so.addVariable ("MoreVideoURL", "");

so.addVariable ("VideoSmoothing", "true");

so.addVariable ("AutoPlay", "true");

so.addVariable ("VideoPlayer.videoPlayer1.StoryLinkURL", "");

so.addVariable ("AddThisSWFHeight", "277");

so.addVariable ("VideoPlayer.videoPlayer1.SendEMailURL", "");

so.addVariable ("OneClipEmbedCodeWidth", "322");

so.addVariable ("OneClipEmbedCodeHeight", "277");

so.addVariable ("BaseURL", "");

so.addVariable ("AddThisHostURL", "");

so.addVariable ("VideoPlayer.videoPlayer1.JavascriptFolderURL", "");

so.addVariable ("AddThisSWFURL", "");

so.addVariable ("quality", "high");

so.addVariable ("OneClipEmbedCodeURL", "");

so.addVariable ("Org", "usgov");

so.addParam ("quality", "high");

so.addParam ("allowFullScreen", "true");

so.addParam ("allowScriptAccess", "always");

so.addParam ("menu", "false");

so.write ("flashcontent");

General McChrystal's Retirement Ceremony

In fact, over the past decade, arguably no single American has inflicted more fear, more loss of freedom and more loss of life on our country's most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal.

--Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates

Remarks by Secretary Gates, General Casey, and General McChrystal - Transcript

U.S. Army Recognizes Gen. McChrystal's 34 Years of Service - Slideshow

Gen. McChrystal's Retirement Ceremony - Nancy Youssef, Nukes and Spooks

McChrystal Says Goodbye - Gordon Lubold, Politico

Army Says Farewell To Gen. McChrystal - Spencer Ackerman, Wired


Ted Picado (not verified)

Sun, 07/25/2010 - 3:54pm

It would be fitting at this time to repeat General Douglas MacArthur's quote: "OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE THEY JUST FADE AWAY....."


Sat, 07/24/2010 - 10:57pm

One thing that really stuck out to me in this speech was that McChrystal came off as a bit awkward when he spoke about himself. It was clear he was reading and it did not sound natural. When it came time to heap praise upon others, it came easily to him and he didn't need to look down at his written remarks nearly as often.

I generally don't care about speeches and a talent for public speaking has never impressed me. But this is one of the few speeches that actually made me think.


Sat, 07/24/2010 - 8:55pm

If you don't watch the whole thing, skip to 39:20 and watch the final 4 minutes.

Vito (not verified)

Sat, 07/24/2010 - 3:16pm

Ditto Cindy's comments and wishing General McChrystal nothing but the best for his future and a big thank you for his service and sacrifice.

Cindy Fox (not verified)

Sat, 07/24/2010 - 1:46pm

I wish to thank Gen McChrsytal for his devoted service to our nation's freedom. I am the daughter of a career Army officer and the wife of a career Air Force officer. I believe there are more people who support your views than those who don't. We are very proud of your 38 yrs of dedicated service. Best wishes in your future endeavors.
Thank you very much.