Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal Out, Petraeus In

I haven't commented on this yet because I wanted to see the end of it before formulating and expressing an opinion.

Recently, General McChrystal, the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, did an extended interview with Rolling Stone magazine, during which he and his staff made several disparaging remarks about the civilian leadership team in regards to Afghanistan, principally the president, vice-president, and ambassador to Afghanistan.  General McChrystal was summoned to Washington, and today tendered his resignation before he was fired.

This was not his first time catching flak after criticizing the administration over war policy.  Last fall, he was brought on the carpet when he complained to reporters about a lack of troops.  So no-one can say that he wasn't warned.

Do I agree with what I've heard he said?  Mostly.  I believe that President Obama and his civilian leadership team want the war to just go away, and are willing to make whatever deal with the devil is necessary to make that happen.  I believe that Ambassador Eikenberry has, at least from the stories that I've read, not been a good partner to the military professionals sent to Afghanistan to stabilize and protect the Karzai government.  I believe that Vice President Biden is a buffoon who was added to the ticket so that Obama could disguise his hard left leanings.

But I'm a former sergeant with no military subordinates, and I have no responsibilities to these civilian leaders other than to pay my taxes and vote.  General McChrystal is a flag officer in charge of prosecuting the war in a critical theater.  His attitudes and comments can poison the critical need for the military to respect the office of the president, even if they don't respect the person occupying it.  The recognition that the military is subordinate to, and not separate from or superior to, civilian leadership is a bedrock principle that has kept our republic from becoming a military dictatorship for over 200 years.

It's a basic tenet of leadership.  You don't complain in front of your subordinates, and you don't air out dirty laundry with people outside of your organization.  No matter if you think the boss is an incompetent, glue sniffing, vote buying snake, you don't say it in front of your troops, and for the love of God, you don't say it in front of a reporter.

General McChrystal manned up and resigned, taking responsibility for his conduct and that of his staff.  I'm sad to see him go.  I've monitored reports from Afghanistan, both in the press and through friends who are still in the military, and what I've heard convinced me that he was the right man for the job.  I hope that General Patraeus has one more good campaign in him to see the mission through to conclusion.  I wish both of them luck in the future, because our country needs men like them to contribute enough positives to overcome the negatives heaped upon us by other men and women in positions in power.

By the way, reports are saying that General Patraeus has to be confirmed by Congress to fill the position.  When did the military start needing Congressional approval to fill a personnel need?


Shannon said...

EXTREMELY well expressed. Totally agree!!

KurtP said...

I agree with what you said, but the troops aren't stoopid (or as stoopid as most Libs think) and know when they're being put out for show.
I joined the SeaBees after Jimmy Carter 1.0 got our hostages taken in Iraq (patriotism and lack of a job) and he was soundly trashed in the barracks.

Almost everyone I knew respected Reagan and knew he'd only use us for the advancement of American interests.
That being said, there was A LOT of badmouthing when he granted amnesty to the first wave of Mexican invadors.

DaddyBear said...


I know what you mean. I was in the Army during the Clinton years, and the barracks rang with cursing about him on a very frequent basis. But the NCO's never uttered a word of it in front of the privates. McChrystal should have known better.

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