Small Wars Journal

General McChrystal Recalled (Updated)

The "Story"

The Runaway General - Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone

How 'Rolling Stone' Got Into McChrystal's Inner Circle - Newsweek

What Happened in Paris... - Foreign Policy

Update 4:

McChrystal's Fate in Limbo as Obama Cites Poor Judgment - New York Times

President Obama's top commander in Afghanistan flew to Washington on Tuesday to find out whether he would be fired for remarks he and members of his staff made that were contemptuous of senior administration officials, laying bare the disarray and enmity in a foreign-policy team that is struggling with the war. In an article in Rolling Stone magazine, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and his aides spoke critically of nearly every member of the president's national security team, saying President Obama appeared "uncomfortable and intimidated" during his first White House meeting with the general, and dismissing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as "Bite Me." The firestorm was fueled by increasing doubts - even in the military - that Afghanistan can be won and by crumbling public support for the nine-year war as American casualties rise. The criticism of General McChrystal's statements was swift, and the general had apologized and prepared a letter of resignation, though President Obama had not made up his mind whether to accept it when they meet on Wednesday morning.

-- New York Times

General Stanley McChrystal Tenders his Resignation - Daily Telegraph

A senior Capitol Hill source tells me that General Stanley McChrystal had tendered his resignation to President Barack Obama and that the White House is actively discussing a replacement who could be quickly confirmed by the Senate. The source said that among the names being touted as possible successors are General James Mattis, the outgoing head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command and due to retire after being passed over as U.S. Marine Corps commander, and Lieutenant General William Caldwell, commander of Nato's Training Mission in Afghanistan.

-- Daily Telegraph

"General McChrystal has a right to his personal political views. They are his, and his alone. When they disagree with the orders and policy he is instructed to carry out, his choices are clear. Instead, he chose to let those personal views, and disdain for those elected and appointed officials who disagreed with him, shape the tenor of his discourse with his seniors, and most inexcusably, his juniors. He has failed at the very basics of leadership that Captain Miller explains so frankly to his young soldier."

"So, the Commander in Chief has little choice but to accept General McChrystal's resignation, should that late story be confirmed. If the President were not to do so, he risks the skewing of the civilian-military relationship that is a cornerstone of our personal and collective liberties, much as Truman would have done in failing to discipline General MacArthur in Korea six decades ago. The situation with General McChrystal leaves President Obama with another, very dicey problem. Who will be putting hands in the air to command in a theater where the strategy and policy have been so publicly discredited by a senior General Officer? And whomever is chosen, what will be the effect of a new commander dropping onto the scene just before a key offensive that may determine the long-term success of the US effort in Afghanistan?"

-- USNI Blog

McChrystal Denies Offering to Resign - MSNBC

President to Decide McChrystal's Future After Critical Comments - VOA

Obama Holds off Making Decision on McChrystal - Washington Post

Obama Calls McChrystal on Carpet over Interview - Washington Times

Gen. McChrystal's Job Hangs in the Balance - Los Angeles Times

Obama to Confront General McChrystal - Reuters

General Faces Unease Among His Own Troops, Too - New York Times

Afghan Leaders Voice Strong Support for McChrystal - Associated Press

Can Obama Afford a Dismissal? - Washington Post

Fire McChrystal? A New Test for Obama - USA Today

McChrystal Woven into Obama's Afghanistan Strategy - Los Angeles Times

In Afghanistan a New Breed of Commander Stepped In - New York Times

A Hard-driving, Unyielding Commander - Los Angeles Times

Spec Ops Officers Shocked by McChrystal Comments - Army Times

McChrystal Comments Mirror 'Attitudes About Best Approach' - VOA

The President and His General - New York Times

Gen. McChrystal's Fate - Washington Post

Judging McChrystal's War - New York Times

The Other Truman Doctrine - New York Times

An Increasingly Politicized Military - Los Angeles Times

What Would Lincoln Do? - New York Times

Should the 'Runaway General' Be Fired? - New York Times multiple opinion piece with Kori Schake, Hoover Institution; Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs; James Morin, Truman National Security Project; Robert Haddick, Small Wars Journal; and Nathaniel Fick, Center for a New American Security.

Military Blogs Ask: Should He Stay or Go? - New York Times

Gates Has a Long, Loooong Record of Firing Generals - Danger Room

General Stanley McChrystal - USNI Blog

The Seduction of Powerful Men - USNI Blog

The Replacements: 5 McChrystal Successors - The Daily Beast

Should McChrystal be Fired? Pundits Weigh In - CBS News

Kerry on McChrystal Flap: Stop the 'Feeding Frenzy' - State Politics

MacArthur Territory - Bernard Finel

Michael Yon's Criticism of McChrystal Deemed Prophetic - Michael Yon

McChrystal will Get a Red Card - Robert Haddick, Small Wars Journal

The Rolling Stone Article: Why Should I Care? - Schmedlap

Rolling Stone - Andrew Exum, Abu Muqaqwama

General McChrystal on the Rocks - Bill Roggio, Long War Journal

Too Rolling Stoned - Mudville Gazette

Stan the Man - Blackfive

McChrystal Aides Shocked, 'Heartbroken' After Mag Profile - Danger Room

The No-No Line - Blackfive

Journalist Surprised By Reaction To His Profile Of Gen. Stanley McChrystal - NPR

Stanley, Homework! - Kings of War

How Not to Handle the Press... - Wings Over Iraq

"Insular backgrounds, whether in special operations or conventional forces, encourage tone-deafness. Applause lines in the testosterone driven subculture of combat units are not likely to play well on CNN. Senior commanders have to move easily between these two worlds, delivering a consistent message to very different audiences."

"When I encourage young officers to go to grad school, I tell them to stay away from military people. Have lunch with the lesbian anarchists, attend the environmentalists' weekly emergency teach-ins, and try to see the world through different eyes. That skill will come in handy later on in life."

"It's a bit premature to pass judgment on General McCrystal's situation. However, it's important to distinguish between our long-term interests and goals and those currently entrusted to carry out those goals. While we have long term interests in stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan, everybody in uniform is replaceable."

-- Paul Yingling via e-mail

"Having escalated the import of injudicious offhand remarks, Obama may feel obliged to relieve the general. His replacement then would be either the respected Corps Commander in Afghanistan, LtGen David Rodriquez, or the Joint Forces Commander, General James Mattis, who is a legend among the troops. LtGen John Allen, deputy to General Petraeus, also has a fine track record. While these are qualified replacements and it does look grim for McChrystal, he should not be relieved. Our enemies would gloat about such headlines, while Afghan President Karzai, who has leapt to McChrystal's defense, would feel rebuffed. After all, Obama has chosen to ignore Karzai's erratic remarks. Although I believe the current counterinsurgency strategy is too ambitious for our budget and too restrictive for our troops in the long term, McChrystal is confident he can stop the momentum of Afghan insurgents in the short term. That is the first order of business in this war. Our field commander should be judged on what happens in the field. We only have one commander at a time; Obama chose McChrystal, so let him do his best."

-- Bing West via e-mail

Update 3:

"I read with concern the profile piece on Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the upcoming edition of 'Rolling Stone' magazine. I believe that Gen. McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment in this case. We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose. Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions. Gen. McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologize to them as well. I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person."

-- SECDEF Robert Gates

Even some of McChrystal's staunchest backers in Afghanistan said the derisive comments the general and his staff made about the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter leave him open to dismissal.

"I say this as someone who admired and respects Stan McChrystal enormously. The country doesn't know how much good he's done. But this is a firing offense," said Eliot A. Cohen, who served as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the latter days of the Bush administration.

This is clearly a firing offense," said Peter Feaver, a former official in the Bush White House and strong backer of a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

But relieving McChrystal of his command on the eve of a major offensive in Kandahar, which White House and Pentagon officials have said is the most critical of the war, would be a major blow to the war effort, said military experts.

"My advice is to call him back to Washington, publicly chastise him and then make it clear that there is something greater at stake here," said Nathaniel Fick, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now chief executive of the Center for a New American Security.

-- Washington Post

"We'll have to wait for Wednesday to see if McChrystal keeps his command. My guess is he'll stay, because now the White House knows that a chastened McChrystal isn't going to say anything else outside of his lane to any reporter. McChrystal's apology, emailed to me and other reporters well before the Rolling Stone story dropped, suggests that he wasn't trying to walk away from his command in a blaze of arrogance. But it's on him to repair his relationship with his colleagues and his bosses."

"You know, all that said — Yesterday, Gates passed over Gen. James Mattis for Marine Corps commandant. If Obama wants to cashier McChrystal but not overhaul the entire strategy, Mattis is an option. Whether he'd do it is another thing, since he's the outgoing commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, so taking over ISAF will technically be a step down. But Mattis will otherwise retire from the Marines, so maybe he wouldn't see it that way."

-- Spencer Ackerman

"Obviously the war's not going well, nor is it apparently where General McChrystal himself thought it would be at this stage of things," says Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired Army colonel. "But what stands out is the egregious lapse in professional conduct -- not only on the part of McChrystal, but on the part of his subordinates."

"What this reveals," he adds, "is a command climate where expressions of contempt for senior civilian officials are permissible."

'While "frustrations" in such a difficult and deteriorating environment may be "understandable," Mr. Bacevich says, the comments nevertheless represent "unprofessional behavior that is completely intolerable."

"If that is so, is it time to sack McChrystal? The Afghanistan commander, who has apologized for his comments and his own "poor judgment," has been summoned to the White House to explain himself to President Obama Wednesday."

"Yet while some Afghanistan analysts quickly concluded that Mr. Obama must fire McChrystal over his "insubordination," just as President Truman did to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951 over Korean war policy, Bacevich says now is not the time."

-- Christian Science Monitor

Update 2:

McChrystal Scandal May Complicate U.S.-Afghan Strategy - Washington Post

Defense Secretary's Statement on McChrystal - Wall Street Journal

U.S. General in Afghan War at Tisk of Losing Job - Associated Press

Gates: General McChrystal Made Big Mistake - Reuters

McChrystal's PR Man Resigns - MSNBC

NATO Confident in McChrystal Despite U.S. Article - Reuters

Factbox: Reaction to Gen. McChrystal Controversy - Reuters


U.S. General McChrystal Recalled Amid Rolling Stone Gaffe - BBC News.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington, US media report, in the wake of a magazine article that mocked senior Obama administration officials and diplomats. Gen Stanley McChrystal has apologised for the article in Rolling Stone. In the article, Gen McChrystal said he felt betrayed by U.S. ambassador to Kabul Karl Eikenberry. The general's aides mock Vice-President Joe Biden and say Gen McChrystal was "disappointed" in President Obama...

More at BBC News.

Also See (Update 1):

Gen. Stanley McChrystal Summoned to Washington - Washington Post

Top Afghan Commander Summoned to Washington - Associated Press

NATO Setbacks as U.S. Summons Commander - Agence France-Presse

McChrystal on Defensive for Remarks - Wall Street Journal

ISAF: Magazine Profile Captures Unguarded Moments - Los Angeles Times

Aides to U.S. General In Afghanistan Slam Obama - Reuters

McChrystal Apologizes for Insulting Obama Team - Washington Independent

Latest McChrystal Developments - CNN News

Rolling Stone Story a Sign of Frustration? - Christian Science Monitor

Gen. McChrystal Recalled to Washington - Foreign Policy

McChrystal Issues Mea Culpa - Foreign Policy

Don't Blame McChrystal, Blame Obama - Washington Post

The McChrystal I Know - Time

General McChrystal Clearly in Four-Star Trouble - CBS News

A Couple of Points about McChrystal - National Review

Should He Go? - National Review

Military Dissent Should Be Private - National Review

McChrystal's Media Woes - Contentions

Re: McChrystal's Media Woes - Contentions

Top Afghanistan General Questions Civilian Leaders - Politico

Firing McChrystal: Weighing the Risks - Abu Muqawama

McChrystal and the Afghan Drawdown - World Politics Review

What the Heck Was McChrystal Thinking? - The Atlantic

Rolling Stone McChrystal Article Understates Backbiting - Washington Post

McChrystal Finds Few Defenders Among Senators - Washington Post

Gen. McCrystal Must Go - Washington Post

Runaway General - ABC News

Fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal? Not Yet - New York Daily News

Obama and McChrystal Haven't Spoken - The Atlantic

'Everybody in Uniform is Replaceable' - Danger Room

Why Obama Won't Fire McChrystal - FOX News

Good-Bye McChrystal, Hello Mattis? - Foreign Policy

Advanced Petard Hoistmanship - Forward Movement

Is McChrystal Going to Fallon his Sword? - Zenpundit

What's Important About This? - Captain's Journal

Four Reasons Why Obama HAS to Fire Stan McChrystal - Democracy Arsenal

Afghan Follies: Obama versus McChrystal - Huffington Post


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Steve Creech (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:04pm

Good job Mr. President! You allowed the wright thing to happen. When it is the wright thing you should certainly take credit for what you did. After all you are the president of these united states. Please forget Chicago. You are the president, Do something good for this country. Why? Because you can. (mcchrystal)

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 7:51pm

What Obama has failed to understand is that this whole episode has handed the Taliban a major IO win---"look we apply a little pressure and the Americans lose a general"---when they talk now to the local Afghans that will be their messaging. We have nothing to counter that.

If I were Karzai I would be definitely starting talks with the Taliban and Chinese as I now know my partner does not know what he is doing after nine years.

Will be interesting to see if Gen. P goes on Afghan TV/radio and appologizes everytime an Afghan gets killed by NATO troops---will Gen. P be forcing Karzai out of his compound and into the countryside as Gen. McC was doing---doubt it. Will Gen. P start explaining the strategic policy to the ground troops or walk on combat patrols with them--doubt it. He was good for walkarounds in Baghdad, but he never did them outside of Baghdad.

The comments on Gen. P's winning on the surge is historically still in question and many seem to think Gen. P was the driving force behind the Awakening---time will tell.

Matt/Kinkers: To build on your questions and comments it is somewhat ironic that one of the key PSYOP initiatives is to sow dissent and discord among the enemy leadership and between the leadership and rank and file members. Surely this is also an effort that our enemy attempts to undertake with us. And the irony is that we often inadvertently support the enemy's efforts with our own internal conflicts and fail to recognize that.

"MAC" McCallister (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 5:16pm


Not only insurgents but also Karzai strategy.

How will General McChrystal's departure affect President Karzai's COIN strategy?

Karzais COIN strategy is quite simple. President Karzai picked his brother to administer Kandahar province and to "clear" the field of Karzai rivals. Ahmed Wali Karzai has entered into relevant patronage relationships with his local allies to "hold" and control territory. The members of the newly established patronage network then "build", expand and consolidate their control... The Karzai administration now controls Kandahar. (Could this be a reason why local administrators and Kabul are less than enthusiastic about our proposed military operations in the area?)

The Karzai administration is also allied with Karzai loyalist (for now) Gul Agha Sherzai, Governor of Nangahar province who has successfully undermined the local poppy economy and now controls the distribution of development aid to assist in consolidating his position and power in the province.

President Karzai through Ahmed Wali Karzai is also allied with Matiullah Khan in Uruzgan province. Matiullah Khan controls the northern approaches (trade routes) into Kandahar and staging areas into Hazara territory. Matiullah Khan's militias will eventually be integrated into the central government security forces (if history is an indication for how local strongmen are integrated into the state security apparatus).

President Karzai is presently engaged in direct and indirect negotiations with select Taliban factions to exploit the movements more ambitious leaders and inherent rivalries.

I actually give President Karzai a hell of a lot more credit for how he is executing his "clear-hold-build and consolidate" strategy then his naysayers. It will be interesting to watch how a change in U.S. military leadership will affect Karzai strategy.


Matt (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:50pm

Kinkers: You're asking the right question; how does this affect the insurgents? This blog, as I pointed out earlier, has been focused primarily on internal questions such as McChrystal's likely replacement, and whether Rangers are considered SF, and why a Marine hasn't been given a chance, etc. This is symptomatic of the disease of internalization that plagues the DoD. We are so focused on what makes sense to us that we have marginalized or forgotten entirely what matters to the enemy. The inteservice infighting, the strategic level ambiguity on policy issues, the equitable division of battlespace among coalition partners in which political concerns trump tactical concerns, etc. are some of the many examples of the internal focus that has hindered ISAF efforts from the beginning. Let's start with a focus on the enemy and/or the population(external variables)and let policy develop from there.

Howard (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:42pm

All the congressmen and senators are supporting Obama's decision to remove General McChrystal, because the biggest threat to them would be public opinion backing the General over the already mistrusted government ... because this is how governments fall victim to military coups. It's a faster way of removing a corrupt government than fixed elections, or appealing to a government who disregards the electorate.

Howard (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:42pm

All the congressmen and senators are supporting Obama's decision to remove General McChrystal, because the biggest threat to them would be public opinion backing the General over the already mistrusted government ... because this is how governments fall victim to military coups. It's a faster way of removing a corrupt government than fixed elections, or appealing to a government who disregards the electorate.

Howard (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:41pm

All the congressmen and senators are supporting Obama's decision to remove General McChrystal, because the biggest threat to them would be public opinion backing the General over the already mistrusted government ... because this is how governments fall victim to military coups. It's a faster way of removing a corrupt government than fixed elections, or appealing to a government who disregards the electorate.

duck (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:25pm

Having finally read the article I want to point one remarkable facet that I have yet to see anyone else point out....for all the comparisons of Afghanistan to Vietnam, I don't recall ole' Westy flying into Khe Sanh to attempt to explain the sitchiation to the boys up there.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:24pm

Ian stated: "You guys with the big brains, who can go around quoting Clausewitz all day, you can debate your upper echelon opinions about COIN or whatever..."

I might add that you intellectual fucking fucks in command right now have failed. You have intellectualized war for the sake of your own politics at the expense of American lives. It's time to either step aside and unleash the dogs of war, or we pull out and you intellectual Ivy League generals can come home with your tails between your twats.

Commando Spirit

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:24pm

Why the doom and gloom? McChrystal fumbled at the 1st down and 1, he won't recover from it either but then who cares? The real effect will be on the lads and ladies out on patrol whilst this void continues above them. Good, solid leadership is what is required now.

Rather than grump on about Generals lets think about the pearler of an Influence opportunity this has given the insurgents. How will they capitalise on this belter of an opportunity and how many of the coalition will come home cold as a result?

MacArthur did it, Westmoorland did it and now so has McChrystal - stepped out of their military box and feel it appropriate to dabble in the political box...what is it with US Generals??

This puts us all [ISAF] in a whole World of pain...well done, and thanks McC. Now move over and get on with some gardening leave.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:30pm

One of the interesting things about this whole incident is that it exposes much of the attitudes of those in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) - their arrogance and distain for those who are not part of their "special" and black community was transplanted to the staff surrounding McChrystal. This is one of the reasons why there has always been a fear of a special operations force that becomes a palace guard and then believes that it has the power and resources to do what it wants and make or break leaders (and that it is superior to the leaders (and even Constitution) they serve. But it also demonstrates and exposes the type of immature attitudes that can be found in the Joint Special Operations Command. Serious attention needs to be given to not only ISAF's close personal general staff but also the JSOC general staff as well.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:23pm

To Mani: Rangers are consider Special Operations Forces while in the US military there is only one Special Forces organization and they are known popularly as the "Green Berets." All the other "special" organizations (SEALs, Rangers, Special Mission Units, Civil Affairs, PSYOP, Air Force "Air Commando's" - PJs, CCT, STS and even the Air Force combat weathermen, and Marine Special Operations Command units) are all Special Operations Forces but not (by the US doctrinal description Special Forces. Slight distinction and splitting hairs to many outside of SOF but an important distinction nonetheless.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:09pm

I am not sure which is worse---a stupid deadline that no general can hold to and be anywhere close to successful or a National Command Authority who does not understand that.

Either way the war in AFG is over and maybe the NCA should declare "mission accomplished" and simply pull the troops out.

Let the Chinese take it on---then see if there are any "civilian" losses---they are after the mineral rights anyway.

Chinese vs ISI--should be interesting.


Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:59am

For a guy who expects his soldiers to show restraint in the face of death, I think he should have followed his own prescription in a much less difficult situation. He's having others investigated for slipping up and causing casualties when they have followed all procedures and attempted to guard both friendly and innocent lives to the best of their ability in a time of great stress and confusion. He should be relieved if he can't keep his mouth or the mouths of his staff shut while lounging in Paris or Berlin. The gulf in expectations disgusts me.

Ryan (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:58am

Matt, I read a piece yesterday evening that said the best thing for all parties would be for McChrystal to publicly resign--and then for Obama to not accept the resignation. A good dressing down and then send him back on his way. This way Obama looks like he's in charge and McChrystal seems adequately scolded.

I'm not sure if I agree with that but I'm no politician. Anybody have an opinion on that suggestion?


Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:40am

why aren't rangers really considered special forces? so who is?

Matt (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:34am

The conversation to this point has been interesting. I think the various positions have been well stated and countered. But there is one perspective I haven't heard represented in either this forum or the media. What do the people and government of Afghanistan think? We have a dangerous tendency to look internally with issues like this, which, at first glance, makes sense. After all, the central figures in this are an American President, an American General, and an American magazine. However, the larger and more important audience is what most experts agree is the most important part of COIN; the population. To a tribally oriented culture the issue of saving face is significant. President Obama has apologized for his own country on an international stage, he has bowed to the heads of state of various other nations, and he has offered an open hand of friendship to countries that continue to defy United Nations resolutions and American power. In the United States, where somehow weakness seems to be becoming a virtue among political leaders, these actions may be seen as progressive and admirably restrained. However, to the rest of the world, especially Afghanistan, these actions are seen as weak. The Chief of the American tribe is Barack Obama and instead of negotiating from a position of power he has spoken ill of his own tribe while in the land of other tribes, and now he has been insulted by a lesser chief from his own tribe. If we are to win the hearts and minds of the population, we should prioritize, or at least consider, their values. President Obama's decision to fire General McChrystal may be an unfortunate demise for a brilliant and capable General but consider the alternative. If the President does not fire General McChrystal, the Afghans are likely to view our Commander-in-Chief as weak, which will have obvious implications on our efforts to win the hearts and minds of people whose 5,000 year history shows they respect and respond to power above all else. As I see it, this is an excellent opprtunity for the President to portray strength.

As for who should replace General McChrystal, I will cast my lot with General Mattis.

RUSHMORE (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 11:22am

Bottom line is McChrystal came off like a twat. The article portrayed him and his staff as a bunch of unprofessional goons, not the caliber of people we want to be running a complicated and embattled strategy which requires both subtlety and strength to conduct. Not to mention a considerable diplomatic savvy...

I can't believe that McChrystal is so stupid that he didn't understand what would come of this article. Therefore, he must have understood the fallout and decided to do the article anyway-- perhaps as a means to voice his displeasure, disatisfaction, etc. with the civilian side of the Afghan operation. In that case, he deserves to be fired outright. No one should expect to survive after publicly criticizing one's boss or one's partners... McChrystal didn't even make a strong case for anything. He just sounded like a douche. Really, the man uses the word "gucci"....

For the record, it is important that generals "put a good face" on bad situations in public. More importantly, they and their subordinates must recognize their place in the food chain, MORE SO than you or I. Their positions are as symbolic as they are functional.

Also, i believe in the ideas of COIN. I do not believe that we understand just how ambigious a COIN victory looks like, and I don't believe that we have properly prepared ourselves for the perpetual anti-climax of COIN as a real military endeavor. Nor do I think that "the surge" "success" in Iraq was a product of our efforts, so much as a confluence of many factors... of which the surge was a small part, perhaps. COIN, and its attendant theories, are only ways of describing an environment and proscribing action in that environment. It is not THE WAY. Just as in all things, the complexity of human behavior and events will always create difficulties and opportunities for decision makers. We shouldn't think too much of or successes or failures.

Ian: As far as I can understand, this is just plain stupidity at work and not a planned maneuver. They got stuck due to volcanic ash for 10 days, they went on a drinking-binge with a journalist, they mouthed off while drunk.

Sam: "Today 2010 look how is Hezbollah spreading terror in Lebanon ." Uh yea, they have terrorrized themselves into cabinetpositions in one of the few democratic ME states through popular vote. Thats effective terror for ya. Doh.

Ryan (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:43am

You guys with the big brains, who can go around quoting Clausewitz all day, you can debate your upper echelon opinions about COIN or whatever.

The only thing I want to say (and the only thing I think I'm qualified to add) is, from the perspective of an officer junior enough that I still spend 99% of my time with my enlisted soldiers, GO MATTIS. What a soldier's general. The men LOVE him. It reminds me of Mike Steele back when he commanded the Rakkasans: the careerists, the politicians in uniform, HATED him but the joes loved him. Same deal here--the only people I hear badmouthing Mattis do so because of issues having NOTHING to do with actually putting bullets in the heads of evil motherf*ckers, like his support of leaving DADT in place, or his hatred for that comfortable refuge for mediocre staff officers called Powerpoint.

I don't think McChrystal should be fired--or if so, not over this piddling little article. But if he is, Mattis needs to replace him. I don't think it will happen because like carl said above, Mattis will try to win, and damn the politicians.

Ian (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 8:42am

Matt, your read of the article is very similar to mine--this is McChrystal the risk-taker in the biggest dice-roll of his life. Unfortunately, if the dice-roll doesn't work, the foot soldier in Paktika's season in hell will have been kind of pointless.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:40am

All this crap about we can win if, "proven theories," etc, is ridiculous. We are strategically bleeding ourselves dry in Afghanistan for nothing. You've got a bunch of flag officers and so-called experts who have sold a bunch of operational theories and sworn that they can implement them due to their own self-aggrandizement and arrogance. Both the McChrystal and Petraeus incidents stem from the same source. Its not the poor general overwraught by a difficult mission and harried by uncaring civilian bosses. It is that these "clowns" think that they are gods and have sworn that they can do anything. What they should have done is tell the civilian leadership that what we are doing in Afghanistan is strategically idiotic rather than saying "I can do anything boss, let me show you how I can prove beautiful theories with other men's lives."

And the decadence and profligacy with which we are pursuing the effort in Afghanistan shows that we have no strategic interest there. If we really had a strategic interest, we wouldn't have thousands of troops strolling around main bases, going on dates with their sweeties to the boardwalk. We wouldn't be pissing away money on construction contracts we don't need. We would be fighting, lean and dedicated, for our strategic interests. The leadership of the military has allowed it to be a bankrupt and decadent force, focused on garrison b.s. and creature comforts. They are all "clowns." Now, if I put my real name to this, I would certainly be in jeopardy, so how can there be a double standard for the senior leader in Afghanistan? He has to go.

I don't know, I think the whole thing was planned. Look at how much attention McChrystal is getting due to this stupid little article in Rolling Stone? He also gets a one on one meeting with Obama, and everyone is paying attention to what he has to say.

There are two ways this can go. He gets fired, and is able to say that he was not the last guy on deck or the captain going down with the boat. It is what history will say that matters to guys like him or Eikenberry, and that is what the article brought up.

The other way it can go is that he keeps his job and with that said, he can press the big issue of timelines. The July 2011 date is dumb, and I think this entire show all revolves around getting this one aspect of the strategy changed. Because that date symbolizes a President that does not care if the thing is won or not, and all that matters is that we are out by then. McChrystal wants a win, and he wants what we had in Iraq--a withdrawal based on success and results, and not some stupid time line.

In simple terms, he wants to the time and flexibility to win, or he wants out. This article was that message, and the message is received. That is my take on it all.

Daver (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:17am

Of course McChrystal must resign. How can he face his men after being so naive in letting a Rolling Stone reporter into the inner sanctum? Did he think the guy was pro-war? Every Lance Corporal who sees him from now on is going to tell him a Biden joke. He can't stuff this back into the bottle.
The only condition that I think would allow him to remain is if he fires his entire staff. He won't. He'll resign. Obama will accept.

The above comments are mine, I appear to have loogged in as anonymous.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 2:18am

Hey Anonymous I resemble that remark.;-) Do you know how hard it is to get good Argyle sox is size 14?

On a more serious note senior Chinese officials have remarked that they are more than willing to take up the slack 'if asked' should the West pull out. Some of their recent weapons prototypes certainly point in that direction.

Noew for an advert. The centenary issue of the GI Zhou Newsletter is out at the end of the month and featutes one large piece on Chinese counterinsurgency and several smaller pieces on new weapons. Contact me if you want to be on the distribution list.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:51am

is the war business a big mess, mixing fear, beer and bravado will make generals sink a ship.
the whole situation is double edged: on one hand, a brave military general makes fun of his government which shows freedom of expression, on the other hand, it is a national and international embarrassment. should he be fired, would that be good for the GIs in Afghanistan, will it be good for that messy war strategy? it is not clear, the Pentagon does not say anything about that or I hope they do.
can he execute the war effectively if he stays even though he might be broken as a general? May be feeling grateful for not being humiliated by the President, he might try to prove to dad that he is worthy and able to be affective and successful.
let's sleep on it.

carl (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:28am

General Mattis will never be selected for command in Afghanistan because he would want to win. If General McChrystal is replaced, he will be replaced by someone who understands the primary mission is not to win but to get out as quickly as possible while making the administration look good.

I fear greatly for all the Afghans who have worked with us.

J. A. Prüfstein (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:19am

<i>If I thought my answer were given
to anyone who would ever return to the world,
this flame would stand still without moving any further.
But since never from this abyss
has anyone ever returned alive, if what I hear is true,
without fear of infamy I answer you.</i>

The answer is obviously, 5GW.

'nuf said.

Sam (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:37pm

In the Beirut barracks bombing (October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon) during the Lebanese Civil War, two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces--members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon--killing 299 American and French servicemen. Hezbollah was behind the attack.
The Administration decide to pull out the Marines from Lebanon instead facing the terror, Today 2010 look how is Hezbollah spreading terror in Lebanon . If we have faced the terror with hands of irons the Lebanese people where not living today in the fear from Hezbollah who is threaten the peace in the middle east . At that time they pull out General Alexander Haig from his position for a political reason (Even they know that he was the best man for that jobs that's when politic interferes with military thing The best is to give all our supports to our Generals Even they make sometime small mistakes and if someone of you have no mistake let him be the first to throw stones on them.

Devil Dog Supreme (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:32pm

Boot General McChrystal.

Send in General Mattis.

Get the Army and SOCOM out of Afghanistan.

Rename Afghanistan, Marinestan.

And we'll wait for China there.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:19pm

"Fridovich and Mulholland - who are senior enough to even be considered for the job."

Seniority should have nothing to do with it. Put Mike Repass in there.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:15pm

"The British established a huge diplomatic victory by having the world isolate Argentina before retaking the Falklands..."

"Peace in our time" was also viewed as a huge diplomatic victory <eyes-rolling>.

The point is, however, the "intelligentsia" role in COIN a la Harvard, Princeton, etc has been a failure in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. You wanna win in COIN, go get some Latin American general like Efrain Rios Montt, not some Ivy League dude wearing argyle socks.

Sam (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:13pm

It's very easy to critiques General McChrystal. Does anyone have ideas what make General McChrystal show his frustration? . I am sure he have seen thing worse from the Administration he did not want to talk about it. It's very easy to point him with fingers , but did any one of you give to his country what General McChrystal did .When the politician play with the military as if they are toys that's the result. When you don't give a military the respect that he deserve that's the result.
General McChrystal is a man That gave his life to United State , he did not played the game of the politicians that says one thing and do something else. I give my support to General McChrystal because he said the true even its hard to hear it. May God Bless America May God bless you General

Mike Few (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 11:10pm

LTG Fridovich and LTG Caldwell are stellar choices. I've read extensively of Fridovich's writings on the Phillipines, and I worked under LTG Caldwell. From my perspective LTG Fridovich would bring the capability to transform organizational change into an indirect approach, and LTG Caldwell brings an unbelievable command presence.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:51pm

Unfortunately there will be little chance that a real SF general could get the job (and there are only two real SF generals - Fridovich and Mulholland - who are senior enough to even be considered for the job). This is because GEN McCrystal is considered an SF general despite only serving for approximately 1 year in in SF in 1979 and never even wearing his SF Tab until his confirmation testimony when it appeared to be a good idea to establish his bona fides. Since he is considered SF, SF has now "had its chance" and will likely forever be relegated to the backwater because if GEN McCrystal is fired, every SF Soldier will be tainted with this incident and all the conventional guys will be saying - "see, I told you so" - those SF guys can't hack it at the top levels - and the irony is that McCrystal is a Ranger through and through and not a full blooded SF guy - but to everyone outside of SF all SOF is one and the same). This is a sad day for the US mission in Afghanistan in general, civil-military relations writ large, and on a lesser but included scale, SF.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:51pm

Apprently the front runners right now are Marine Gen. Jim Mattis (JFCOM) and Army LTG Bill Caldwell (NTM-A)...

Bob's World

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:41pm

One excellent choice would be LTG Dave Fridovich. An SF general with tremendous experience in COIN in the Philippines; and also in working with AMB Eikenberry from their time at PACOM together

GI Zhou

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 10:04pm

You are missing the point entirely and this is my last say on the matter, as we have gone off track. Killing the enemy is always an option, and often the easiest, but not always the key to a lasting vivtory.Preventing a war is always a better one.

As Sun Tzu said around 2500 years ago, 'Supreme excellence in war is not winning a hundred battles; Supreme excellence is achievig your aim without bloodshed'.

The British established a huge diplomatic victory by having the world isolate Argentina before retaking the Falklands and another example is getting the Arab world,for example Jordan and Syria, onside before Desert Storm.

In counterinsurgency operations getting the populace is more important than going after the insurgents, for without intelligence you are just asting time, men and resources chasing your tial.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 9:47pm

"You win a war by defeating the enemies will to reisit/continue. Diplomacy is as much a weapon as a rifle."

With comments like that, I rest my case. I guess "killing" the enemy is no longer considered an option <eyes-rolling>.

Duck: I agree that we (the forces involved) have reached the rubicon. If karxzai is preapred to go into some power sharing ararngement with the Taliban, who are after all is said and one Afghans, then we should pack up and go home.

The Chinese have said that they are interested in assisting the Afghans should the west leave, so let them have it. Pakistan can have its buffer zone by proxy although who against I have no idea. China can train and equip the Aghan security services with their equipment and try and turn it into a client state. Good luck transporting the extracted minerals with all the IED trained locals who will fight the Infdiel every step of the way.

It would make an interesting foreign policy choice for Pakistan. Reign in the ISI completely or lose China as a friend.

duck (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 8:52pm

Well everything seems to be boiling over now, as evidenced by everyone's blood being up here. Methinks we have reached the rubicon in afghanistan, go strong to the paint or don't go at all, etc. etc. Perhaps that was Mchrystal's intent?

Whoa. Slow down Cowboy as it's my one claim to fame :-). I used half a dozen Powerpoint slides to show different types of equipment. I am one of those who agrees with General Mattis re Powerpoint.

Fact: There are over fifty vets in the Kennedy School of Government alone which to me does not show an anti-military bias. Harvard by the way is not one university - the separate schools run themselves under a board of governors. The ROTC ban I agree is an issue but it is changing and once gays are admitted into the military openly it won't be an issue.

I am afraid you have to leave your bias re the President when discussing why the military sends their best officers there. The course includes people from all the services including civilians, and a token Aussie- well used to. You win a war by defeating the enemies will to reisit/continue. Diplomacy is as much a weapon as a rifle.

No I had lost use of my balls long before the lecture. It's no secret I suffer a crippling spinal diesease I got from my time in the service.

presha (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 8:48pm

looks like we are stuck in the red of that spaghetti chart. the troops on the ground are in the best position to judge what works and doesn't work especially on the local i hope our leaders decide toss this coin strategy asap and try something else for the short time we have left to turn this around. plus, isnt fata the real problem anyways? i guess suggesting to take the fight there would be blasphemy. sorry.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 7:54pm

"I gave a joint presentation with a retired general..."

Wow! A presentation? Did you use PowerPoint with those fly-in type effects? Whoosh!


Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 7:50pm

Why pick on Harvard? Because it's good metaphor? Or how about because they ban ROTC there have done so since Vietnam? Or how about because the current Supreme Court nominee banned recruiters from there when she was on staff there? How about because I don't want my tax dollars being used to pay for Army officers to go there for these "fellowship" programs when the place is decidedly anti-military? Or how about because Harvard and Ivy League schools have their hands all over our ineffective government, the Wall Street mess, the insurance mess, the banking mess, the mortgage mess? I mean for being such hotshot schools, they sure screw up everything. Those could be some reasons.

However, the main reason is because diplomacy programs in general taint the ability of one to think of "winning" wars. Instead, diplomacy programs want to teach you to compromise and negotiate for the happiness of all and to be one with the World. "We are the World, We are the Children."

Both of these wars would have been over years ago if we focused on "victory" a word that the current Harvard grad in office doesn't even like to use.

So did you lose one testicle or two, when you went through that program? :o)

Going to Harvard does not mean emsculation, far from it, and I am happy to debate this by private message or in here. Why pick on Harvard anyway? I didn't get emasculated and learnt far more from it that received. They are as patriotic as anyone else and I NEVER felt any anti-military bias whilst there as a researcher.

The National Security Fellows Prgram gives the attending officers a broad overview of the modern world and to think outside the square. The people I met were thorough professionals and Harvard gets as much oout of it as the students. I gave a joint presentation with a retired general which is pretty good for a baggy ass ex-air force Sergeant clerk.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 7:34pm

Xenophon there's no insecurity about the USMC, you baited others by not just lauding Mattis but insulting the Army with the "they've had nine years" bs.

If you'd have served with Mattis and McChrystal (I've served with both) they have similar POVs when it comes to COIN.