Small Wars Journal

McChrystal will get a red card

This morning I was going to write a brief post about a conference I recently attended on strategic surprise. A few thoughts on what is very likely the sudden end of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's career is a fitting substitute.

It is hard to believe that President Obama and his staff will be able to continue to work with McChrystal after the revelation of the Rolling Stone affair. President Obama will have to defend his commander-in-chief powers under Article II of the Constitution and that will almost certainly require McChrystal's swift retirement. To allow McChrystal to apologize and stay on would set a bad precedent, send the wrong signal regarding civil-military relations to the rest of the military, and would cause great uproar among Obama's civilian staff.

Who will replace McChrystal? For the sake of continuity in the midst of the critical Kandahar operation, the elevation of LTG David Rodriguez would seem logical. Regrettably, the contemptuous attitude toward Obama and the White House staff apparently extends throughout McChrystal's staff. As a McChrystal deputy, Rodriguez may be suspect. In any case, several staff officers will also have to go, with a broad investigation likely to follow. Thus someone from the outside may be necessary. Probably not Gen. James Mattis -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates apparently passed him over for Commandant of the Marine Corps so Gates could hardly support him for ISAF. My guess would be someone currently working on the Joint Staff or on Gates's personal staff, someone already well known to Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen (which, ironically, is how McChrystal and Rodriguez got to Afghanistan).

Finally, how did this fiasco with Rolling Stone magazine happen? Field commanders and their staff officers talk to the media in order to get their stories out. In the case of McChrystal and the Afghanistan campaign, the need to do so has lately been even more urgent than usual. McChrystal and his staff were seeking to "add time to the Washington clock." They hoped to get their message out to media audience segments that would soon be putting the most pressure on the Obama administration to terminate the campaign. The theory was that delivering their message -- through a channel like Rolling Stone -- would short-circuit, at least for a time, growing political pressure against the war. Unfortunately for McChrystal and certain members of his staff, the inflammatory bits of the article apparently show a commander and staff frustrated and exhausted by an intractable task -- the very opposite of the message they intended to send.

Obama, Gates, Mullen, and Gen. David Petraeus will get an opportunity to make a decisive shake-up. But counterinsurgency is all about inspiring confidence in the cause among the many actors inside the host nation, not to mention the soldiers and Marines who are ordered out on patrol every day. What remains of that confidence after the shake-up remains to be seen.


The action made by our commanding officer set the stage for those of us who follow. Leadership is the epiphany of military operations. An example set by one is unfortunately reflected upon all who serve and lead. Negative publicity and actions only increase the challenges for those of us who have hope in the success of our operations. We are taught the importance of knowing our surroundings along with whom and how to share information. We must be cautious not to mix our emotions with professionalism, especially when projecting them before an audience. We must be carefully aware when sharing data with different media venues. If not thinking about himself, one should at least consider those who desire to fill his position. This is a lesson learned by many, never to repeat.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:25pm

They're pouring out of the woodwork...

Ken White

Harry (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 2:50pm

I find it ironic in an article regarding proper respect by the military for the civilian leadership of our country that you conclude your article by giving the last names of the President, SecDef and CJCS and only address one person, Gen Petraeus, with HIS rank or title. It would seem you also need to use proper respect.

Clifford (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:52pm

Furthermore, all of this was done with none of these having been experienced pilots who happened to fail out of the Cessna training they underwent shortly prior. GET A GRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Clifford (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:49pm

I am an ex-soldier who spent 15.5 years in the army. Though not all of my experiences were negative, there is much to be said of the propensity to lean towards the intellectual class' interpretation as to what is correct, both within the military and outside of it. The underlying issue here is not simply insubordination, it goes much farther than that. What is at stake here is the concept of responsibility within a chain-of command framework. The weight of the apparatus, the clique of like minded individuals, the perception that if we ar edoing it, then it must be right all contribute to the mess which has seen us sent to two wars under false pretenses without having dared to question our involvement up to now, the elimination of some Pat Tillmans and the subsequent covering up which further exarcerbates the military member's conflictual morality. Applauding McCrystal is applauding the ability of the warrior class to circumvent the authority of the intellectual class. Not applauding him is to applaud the paucity or lack thereof of the intellectual reasoning process which leads us to violate our basic constitutional precepts while pretending to honor them.

We should never have, truth be told, sacrificed the lives of any soldiers for Rumsfeld, Cheyney, Wolfowitz and Bush's wars: 19 Arabs using box cutters commandeered 4 aircraft, shutting down NORAD in the process despite violating In-Flight Emergency protocol at several turns, violated NYC's airspace within reasonable countermeasure reaction time, violated Washington, D.C. airspace with even more impunity, somehow managed to activate technology enabling cell phone to ground communication which would not be developed till a full 3 years later (American Airlines and Qualcomm in August 2004), caused the revocation of many of our constitutional freedoms, and started 2 wars already scheduled since the mid-1980's.

We'd better get a grip on it fast...

eugnid (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:41pm

So, in the end the issue is NOT COIN but CASH!

Flynn's critique of NATO intel in Afghnaistan is about as true for McChrystal's intel in WashDC through Petraeus. He never knew that the worm had turned at the source of his legitimacy, the Pentragon, instead of in his favor at the White House. That's how Gentile's pals beat McChrystal (and Petraeus)!

We as a nation never did COIN well because of the politics of cost and casualties-- in EXACTLY that order. For example, a SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN study of opinion polls shows that the Vietnam War sank in "must win" popularity most when LBJ established the sur-tax in 1967.

Politically, our field commanders face, as so well said elsewhere, a demand from the JCS for low casualties (ours) and high body count (theirs). When US went COIN-- MAT/CAP in Vietnam, for example-- it was near the end and casualties were lower in large part because the theater moved to Cambodia-- but the $$$ limit was over the top. Then "better war" COIN success was beside the point. The Democrats goal was: GET NIXON!

McChrystal is part of a dying interest group...inevitable when the cost of COIN-ops cut into the war toys side of the Pentagon expenditures. That CASH faction blind-sided McChrystal because a lot of his "strategerizing team" was betraying him. As Petraeus' man, McChrystal sought to drop Obama to his knees so hed give carte blache to the surger-ers. So he slowed down troops input so as to make the Dec '10 evaluation deadline meaningless since the effort would not peak by then. McChrystal thought he had Obama muscled but was unaware of how the Pentagon ExecChair-brass was poisoning Obama against him. Hastinggs the dove caught a lucky break as McChrystal civilians vouched for the journalist as part of the ego trap, so then Gen. Stealth was trapped. Look for another Saigon because politicians and military are a bit too self-interested to make war commensurate with the commitment of either military or civilians I the field. Money speaks louder than strategy after a couple of stars or a seat in Congress.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 12:15pm

Wonder if the National Command Authority will pay attention to the writer of the article's comments on NPR yesterday.

Perhaps more than anything else, the profile underscores how ragged the relationship between civilians and the military in Afghanistan has become. According to Hastings, comments by McChrystal and his staff express feelings that, in his estimation, "are very real and very valid."

"I think it's fairly clear Gen. McChrystal, who spent his life in the military, doesn't have a feel for, or understanding of, the use of civilians," he said. "McChrystal puts his life on the line. He is willing to put his life on the line in a way that civilians don't really understand, or can't appreciate.

kathy111 (not verified)

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

I wish the congress will let the General stay until his job has accomplished.

People must understand that military personal has different thoughts with civilian and politician leaders. One is very experienced in war another is not!

Memo to McChrystal: Dont go on a drinking-binge for ten days with Rolling Stones reporters. Just not a very good idea.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 2:22am

If all really read the article to the end --below is really what it was all about and just maybe the National Command Authority should pay more heed to that instead of a personality dispute.

The NCA has now through the countless troop rotations created a field force that is starting to question the judgement of the NCA and that is the slow slog downhill on the morale side of an Army.

"Complaints about how they are allowed to fight are another matter and can be read as a sign of deeper disaffection and strains within the military over policy choices. One Army colonel, in a conversation this month, said the discomfort and anger about the rules had reached a high pitch.

"The troops hate it," he said. "Right now were losing the tactical-level fight in the chase for a strategic victory. How long can that be sustained?"

Whatever the fate of General McChrystal, the Pentagons Afghan conundrum remains. No one wants to advocate loosening rules that might see more civilians killed. But no one wants to explain whether the restrictions are increasing the number of coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base, and seeding disillusionment among those sent to fight."

Now NCA pay attention to the above comments---it is critical you understand exactly what the field is telling you!

Robert Haddick says Obama will have to fire McChrystal; but I don't see why. The General, after all, has done nothing wrong.

In fact, can anyone cite even one specific comment, uttered by General McChrystal, that is disrespectful of the Commander-in-Chief?

I dont think any of us can do that: because in fact, General McChrystal has said nothing about Obama that is disrespectful or out of line.

Sure, McChrystal's comments were impolitic. However, as I explain at FrumForum, McChrystal is in no way guilty of insubordination.

So what's all the fuss about? A few candid remarks in which the General and his aides expressed mild disappointment with their civilian leadership. Big Deal. Are we that thin-skinned? Apparently so.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 06/23/2010 - 1:47am

As a defense contractor who was only one of two civilians invited to an Iraq based BCT unwind sessions every Friday afternoon one learns to ignor the off handed comments by officers made towards civilian contractors or GS types.

Personally-- dodging IEDs, ambushes, murders, secular violence and incoming rocket/mortar fire daily during the 2005/2006 period gave them the right to voice their opinions.

National Command Authority should get a thicker skin, sit back, and really listen as the article was far more than just about the NCA.

The article also spoke about the wavering morale of combat troops who are now openly questioning the reasons for being in AFG--this is the first sign of degrading that we saw in VN and many in the civilian leadership should pay attention to it---not a single pundit mentioned anything about it from the article-- that is how bad our media has gotten and this includes the NCA.

Just how many of the Congress and NCA have served anywhere in a combat zone or served even in the military?


Tue, 06/22/2010 - 7:35pm

Agree with your last two paragraphs.

Andy (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 7:32pm


The author was on NPR today and he said something like this (paraphrasing): The general and his staff were practicing a question and answer for a press briefing and the Biden question came up. McChrystal joked "who's Biden?" and then one of his staff made the "bite me" comment to which everyone laughed, including McChrystal.

You know there's a history between McChrystal and Biden and it's difficult, in my judgment, to give McChrystal the benefit of the doubt here given that history. It's also difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt considering he's been in trouble before for the perception of insubordination. Those facts are hard to nuance away, especially considering McChrystal's apology and the fact that he's taken responsibility (which is to his credit).

And all this is leaving aside the fact that McChrystal and his staff aired a lot of dirty laundry about the dysfunctional relationships with the other principals in Afghanistan. What good can come of that? Poor judgment there too.

All I can say is that most people seem to perceive this as, in the least, poor judgment. Perceptions matter and the whatever action the President decides is going to generate its own set of perceptions.

Pol-Mil FSO

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 6:48pm

I agree with Schmedlap on this one. The media hysteria is ridiculous, especially the comparisons with MacArthur. There are no policy differences here, and, as Schmedlap has pointed out, no explicit insubordination. So the people in theater have scorn for, and rancour towards, the pundits and policy makers back in Washington who don't understand what is going on in the field. That is nothing new and its importance is minuscule in comparison with the objective of trying to defeat the Taliban. Just for once I'd like to see the USG place fighting a war as a higher priority than political battles inside the Beltway.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 6:32pm

What more needs to be said!

When you cannot patrol in areas where you think you might engage in kinetic operations because of the highly restrictive rules, you know that the campaign wont last much longer. Similarly, another NCO believes that the rules of engagement are too prohibitive to achieve sustained tactical success. He reports that villagers are quite literally laughing at U.S. troop casualties, and that they cannot even obtain approval for illumination rounds to assist in withdrawal during firefights.

When NCOs begin to give these kinds of reports, we know that there is something badly wrong with the campaign on a much deeper level than mere sniping between civilian and military authorities. We are losing the campaign in Afghanistan, and recalling General McChrystal wont change that. Much deeper changes need to be made, and a much deeper commitment should become evident by the administration, or men will die for a failing cause. The time to make these changes has almost run out.


Tue, 06/22/2010 - 5:49pm


Agree regarding command climate. Agree on responsibility for staff. If the staffers said these things, McChrystal should discipline them.

As for the "quips." Were they quips on Biden? Or were they joking about how to avoid questions about his proposal? That's a significant difference.

As to whether there is reason to believe the statements were made in McChrystal's presence, you are now speculating about whether hearsay was spoken in his presence. Shouldn't we <em>first</em> determine whether it was said, <em>then</em> determine who actually said it, and <em>then</em> inquire into whether he was present? And <em>then</em> determine remedial actions?

The calls for sacking seem a bit premature and knee-jerkish, to put it mildly. But I guess that's the nature today's hysterical 24/7 media environment.

Andy (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 5:23pm


I'm not attributing the words of unnamed staff members to McChrystal - I'm saying he is accountable for his staff, particularly when he's in their presence. Command climate matters. Maybe all the staff comments weren't said in the General's presence (but there's <a href="">good reason to believe they were</a>), but the quips on VP Biden certainly were.


Tue, 06/22/2010 - 5:04pm


You're attributing the reported words of unnamed staff members to McChrystal and further assuming that the contemptuous statements were made in McChrystal's presence, with his knowledge.

Now that McChrystal has seen the statements published, he needs to determine if the article is accurate and, if so, take appropriate action upon whatever idiot(s) made the statements.

John T. Fishel

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 4:57pm

If GEN McChrystal was not technically insubordinate, certainly one or more of his staff officers were. From here on it is up to President Obama as to what he wants to do about the General. I would suggest that he has more options than either firing him (accepting his resigantion) or accepting his apology. He could, for instance, issue a very public formal Letter of Reprimand - a sort of Presidential Article 15 - and perhaps other options as well. Does the President want to be Lincolnesque and keep a commander he needs on the job (assuming he needs McChrystal) or does he feel that getting rid of him is the best course. Lincoln kept McClellan on because he could not find a better commander until the lack of success coupled with insubordination got to be too much. Truman took a lot from MacArthur and when Marshall asked him if he really wanted to fire him, was given all the correspondence. Marshall came back with the reported comment, "I would have fired the SOB long ago."

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 4:55pm

Andy---what other Flag Officer wants to stand up and take basically what has been degraded into a job that has a revolving door?

Now you have the Karzi brothers chiming in that there has never been a better Cmdr in 9 years--do not think for a moment they will not be using a firing of the previous Cmdr to hold over the head of the next Cmdr.

Maybe we should pay better attention to the article that really indicates the National Command Authority was totally unprepared for the initial meeting---if a 4 star goes to a major policy meeting and the briefing command pulled the same thing WHAT would the Flag Officer response be internally? Everyone get real.

What was also missed in the article and the pundits ARE basically ignoring is the sinking morale of the troops on the ground ---whether the basic infantry man or SF.

NOW where is the National Command Authority in it's role in countering the sinking morale---have you seen anything other than the single AFG visit as a photo op from the current NCA---where are the ongoing visits to outpatient treatment centers---where are the constant meetings with families one on one---where was the NCA at Arlington recently talking with family members---one photo op at Ft. Dix and nothing since and you call this a NCA---maybe this is where MC is coming from?

People want to see the NCA emotions over a oil spill that is killing fish and animals, BUT I have not heard a single pundit or member of Congress talk about the showing of emotions for those wounded or killed in AFG.

Maybe it is time for a general draft so that all members of a civil society can particpate in the same events and thus form their own personal opinions and show their own personal emotions instead of asking that a minority in our society carry that burden!

Steve, APH

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 4:54pm

I have two issues to comment on.

First, I do believe it was a very serious error to "let down" as much as was apparently done in front of a reporter. For that I think the resignation of the Gen's advisor and potentially more staff changes are probably appropriate. Having served as an advisor/aide on a general staff I believe it is an advisor's role to take care of your general, to always be thinking of potential negative impacts of actions, inactions, comments or behaviors. It would appear that the advisors and aides relaxed in a manner that left their General vulnerable. However, I also think that we all must admit we (civilian and military) have opinions and beliefs we express in more intimate and relaxed moments that would do great harm to us if publically released and which while we may discuss in private are not acted on in public. The Gen and particularly his staff appear to have relaxed way too much in front of a reporter. However, I would hope that we are still a nation where it is allowable to disagree, at least in private, with our political leadership. Just because we put on a uniform does not mean that we completely remove ourselves from the principles of freedom on which this country was built. It is our role to enact the decisions of our political leaders regardless of personal opinion. I do not to see how the Gen has failed in arena. He and his staff while relaxed and unguarded made the error of expressing a personal opinion in front of a reporter. While I agree this is an error I can't see how it is an error worth eliminating a general with such capability in the middle of the defining war of our time. Regrettably I guess people, even generals are human. If that reporter can find an instance where the Gen failed to implement the policies enacted/directed by his civilian leadership then there is an issue, if not it just highlights that not every senior member of the government agrees with or likes every other senior member of the government...I hope this is not a surprise to anyone. We succeed as a nation and government because we understand we must subordinate our actions to the will of the national leadership and that right or wrong, agree or disagree we stand by our President. The Gen simply expressed a private disagreement with and potential dislike for certain members of the government.

As to the comment that we are contemptuous of the civilian population and leadership, it is in my opinion incorrect. Yes the military has experiences that set us apart from the much of the rest of the population...but so do experienced reporters, PHD's, police, medics, statesmen, etc. In short, any group with a special insight into a specific topic when commenting on the general public's understanding of that topic risk sounding contemptuous. The question is do we still understand our role in society and do we still support that role. As long as the answer is yes then the comments and frustrations that we individually feel about specific issues are unimportant. And speaking from the inside, the military does support the civilian leadership agree or disagree with its decisions. In fact the intimate exposure to other governments has if anything increased the military's respect for our own. There will always be frustrations with "leadership" in whatever organization a person is in national, military or civilian, there will always be groups complaining about other groups it is human nature...the amazing thing about our nation is that we can see past that and have developed a system that embraces it. Please folks let's not forget what it is we stand for.

Just my 2 cents

Andy (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 4:13pm


Let me ask you this. Suppose a platoon in your company is getting interviewed by a reporter. Some of them are joking at your expense and insinuating that you're a tool who doesn't know what he's doing. Your platoon sergeant or LT laughs along and says nothing. You find out what was actually said only when the article and comments are published in the press for the whole world to see. Who do you hold responsible and why? Chances are, that LT or platoon sergeant would be the first to go.

So, while it may be true, in a strict legal sense, that Gen. McChrystal did not directly display insubordination (ie. violate article 88), he certainly fostered a command climate that encouraged others to do so and took no corrective action when they did. Maybe that's not enough to prosecute, but it's certainly enough to fire him.


Tue, 06/22/2010 - 4:01pm

There is no doubt General McC will be replaced along with many of his staff. So, how did this happen? Perhaps, in part, because of his standing and importance to the Afghan campaign, but moreover, perhaps it was just ego with the thought(s).."I know better".

I heard from the field that SF personnel were told to shave their beards off...and only "a soft knock" along with the ANA would be the SOP going forward in and around Kandahar (this has not been verified from a secondary source).

Comments from commanders in the field included the reservation about withholding indirect fire or aviation assets to ground troops to minimize civilian deaths. The question was.."what about our deaths"..this has not been confirmed.

And lastly, if I recall correctly General McC signed off on the Silver Star to Pat Tillman..who most of you know was killed in a friendly fire incident in Khost Province. When asked during his moments in front of Senate sub-committee...the General replied, in part: " I did not read the citation carefully as I should have.."

Me thinks most of you, especially those in the military would give General McC's comment some pause.

Who is next..I suspect General P will have a say in this strategic and extremely important decision.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 3:03pm


What you are hearing and since there is very little connection between the current US military and the US civilian population since we have no draft is in fact a comtemptous attitude on the part of the military especially that military that has been constantly doing 3-4-5-6 and yes even 7 combat rotations over the last nine years---it is the comtemptous attitude of a warrior class that has been repeatedly "been there done it" over and over and over that is now for the first time directly voicing their contempt for a civilian leadership that "does not get it".

This current civilian leadership is failing to actually see the slow degradation of the military mind set of soldiers who are now for the first time actually questioning the reasons for being where they are---SHADES of VN.

Jester (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 2:47pm

I'm probably wrong about this(never been in the military, just deeply interested in our foreign policy), but from what i have read, McChrystal's comments may not rise to a court martial offense but seem to come awfully close. Describing the President of the United States as unprepared and ignorant of a subject vital to national security, especially in dismissive terms; referring to the VP as "bite me"; disparaging the abilities and character of several different civilian officials serving in the national security sector of the administration-all of these things on their own might not be "comtemptous" of the civilian chain of command(they sound like it though) but taken together they clearly are. Whether or not McChrystal meant to take a massive public shit on the Commander-in-Chief and his deputies is irrelevant, cause thats exactly what he did. The general is fine soldier, but he cannot stay on.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 2:47pm

Did I miss something?

To allow McChrystal to apologize and stay on would set a bad precedent, send the wrong signal regarding civil-military relations to the rest of the military, and would cause great uproar among Obamas civilian staff.

Has anyone including the President and especially his Staff ever served?---either in the Active Duty side, Reserve side or NG side?

That is the true disconnect in this article---this even includes Gates!

For over nine years we have asked military personnel to fight and die based on civilian leadership that has repeatedly gotten it wrong and now we want to "eliminate" a Flag Officer who has the guts to stand in front of an infantry soldier and explain WHY we are fighting in Afghanistan and WHY he could die in a country that he senses does not want his help---WHERE is the civilian leadership WHO should be the ones explaining the need to the soldier.

The Congress and the current civilian leadership do nothing but talk about their great support for the troops and their families---that is it---simply talk.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 2:38pm

Actually the article had little or no critique of civilian leadership in Washington---it was more along the lines of things observed and if the civilian leadership cannot handle that then we are all in trouble.

Maybe we should callup all members of Congress and deploy them as we do the NG for a one year tour in Afghanistan and when they come back just maybe there will be a different view towards this war---might be a good suggestion for the President as well.

This entire affair clearly shows the total disconnect between the reality of soliders in a war zone and the reality of people who have never served a single day in either the military or in a war zone getting shot at or having IEDs go off around you.

Chicken Little (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 2:16pm


I could not find such a comment as well. I was very surprised to see how little the article actually talks about the civilian leadership of NATO and the US.

I was equally surprised that the generals staff appeared so relaxed with a reporter. They should never have been so blunt. In private with people you trust maybe but never with the media.

The article appeared to be more an attempt to slander the generals implementation of COIN by associating jackass behavior with the sub-par results in Afghanistan.

I would think that if the McChrystal is fired its not for this article since he clearly provided enough ammo last year in the way he publicly requested the additional soldiers for Afghanistan.

Anonymous (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 2:14pm


There are a few of us "old" Green Berets still around and active on the MI side of the house.

But believe me when I say "the system does not really want to hear or listen to us"!

Still not sure why we keep on trying.


Tue, 06/22/2010 - 1:18pm

I've been trying to find a quote - confirmed or alleged - from McChrystal that is insubordinate. If someone can identify it, please post it. Thus far, I've only seen McChrystal quoted as being disappointed with a meeting with the President because he thought the President was unprepared for it. If that is the standard for insubordination then we'll need to sack 50% of our leaders from GEN down to CPL.

Steve (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 1:18pm

And let's just remember that Eisenhower's defense policies led directly to that military-industrial complex that he was reputed to be so concerned about. And that MacArthur was in part a creation of FDR's desperate need for a hero in the early days of the war and his mother's ambitions for him. Historical parallel-drawing is a dangerous business.

slapout9 (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:39pm

Colonel Gentile,yep!! don't know if it will happen but I like your thinking. Another option would be to find an Old Green Beret that actually knows what Unconventional Warfare really is, but I don't know of anybody that is still around from that era.

Eugnid (not verified)

Tue, 06/22/2010 - 12:28pm

From McChrystal's point of view this is a good ending for he thus evades the utter failure of his superficial and mechanistic misunderstanding of how marginal rural societies react to a massive brazen military machine rolling over their fragile ecology. Now the standing he unintendedly gave the Taliban and the diplomatic disengagement that the Obama Administration will attempt will not be his burden. Should it fail, he will be in a good position to criticize it anachronistically as the public will follow the mishandling from the start point and in the direction of his chooses. Obama will never expose him nor drag him into the blame game; and his poor command will be shielded by the staff officers on their way out, all invested in McChrystal. Consequently, we will lose yet another COIN and have to make a Saigon-like deal; yet, how McChrystal brought us to this inevitable point will never be a part of the discussion. Furthermore, the Marines operate under separate command and the failure of the current surge will pass over McChrystal's head and tenure, if not that of Petraeus. All in all, after a time, Cleo, the Muse of History, will be McChrystals girl-friend ultimately--as it was with McArthur, as he twists and turns her to make himself look like the hero stripped of his opportunity to reverse defeat in the middle of his effort. We may well see a lot of military campaigning--politically rather than kinetically (hopefully not kinetically) for office in the 2012 election from Petraeus on down, should his health permit. The limiting real question is whether their intellectual limitations will be less hidden and more obvious out of uniform than in. Either way, today is a great day for the Taliban, Karzai, SCO and Islamic conspiracies as well as for those who want a return of conscription. And the main cause of it is what caused so many of our heroic soldiers to die: hubris in the brass, thinking that somehow, with COIN, they have re-invented the wheel. Stay tuned for a lot of attacks by the Obama front on the corporate ties that retired officers go to. Non-service politicos will be seeking to link the retirees to the military-industrial complex that Ike warned about, their only retort. As COIN becomes a dirty word, look for Gentile to be a rising star. Bravo petit colonel!