General Stanley A. McChrystal’s military strategy in Afghanistan

General Stanley A. McChrystal‘s review of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, in which the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan calls for an increase in troops, can be read here.

The Washington Post also reports on the military debate over whether to withdraw from isolated rural parts of Afghanistan where U.S. troops are more vulnerable to attack and refocus on urban centers.

Read full story.

President Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

President Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

40 Responses to General Stanley A. McChrystal’s military strategy in Afghanistan

  1. Roxanna Ouellete says:

    General Stanley A. McChrystal’s snide criticism of some of the Obama administration’s lead officials has given the president a stark choice: look across comments that come close to rebellion, or terminate his lead commanding officer at a critical juncture in Afghanistan.
    I wouldn’t want to be in Obama’s situation right now, even if these two people are gathering today to discuss it through.
    Most foolish to make national destructive comments about your chief like that though.

  2. Donna Halper says:

    Honorable but insubordinate man, this general. In my job, I don’t get to criticize my boss in the media when on a drunken road trip with a reporter. Very unprofessional.
    General David Petraeus is the perfect man for the job and he will do what needs to be done to re-focus the mission.

  3. Derrick Age says:

    Well we all know that in the Army we don’t have time to play the role of a Senator etc… We say what we say and we feel what we feel because we unlike some have earned that right. Although he should have used better deiscretion he is still the man that OBAMA wishes he could be.

    Only the few the proud stand by what the swore to protect. They took an oath to defend the constitution against foreign etc.. Why hasn’t our gov stood by their oath. Amazing how our president can stand against our own but not to another country like Iran or Korea…

    Great Job McChrystal you are an Honorable. An American Hero to the G.I.

    • Don’t forget, Derrick, that the President also took an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
      As far as “earning the right to say what we say” goes, brush up on both the First Amendment and the UCMJ.

  4. Norman Walters says:

    As ex-military disabled Vet from the Viet-Nam era, I guess I must have a different perspective about Gen. McChrystal.
    The military has a chain of command for a reason. No one but no one is exempt from following the rules of that chain of command, from and E-1 to a 5-star General. Without respect for the CIC and not fully engaging in taking his task responsibly, General McChrystal violated all the basic premises of how a command structure must work to achieve its goals.
    I guarantee you that if an E-1 through E-9 had made the same remarks that Gen. McChrystal made, they would be in the stockade waiting for a Courts Martial.
    While he may be an honorable man and a great military strategist, he apparently at the same time, be a very stupid man to allow himself and his aides make such ignoranant and disrespectful remarks to the President and Commander in Chief.
    I applaude the decision of McChrystal to resign, at least with dignity, and President Obama’s decision to replace him with Gen. Petraeus. I know Gen. Petraeus and he will do just fine as Commander of that theater. After all he has been in charge of the 101st Airborne for some time and had several years of combat experience himself.
    The militry will find a place for Gen McChrystal to “hang around” until he finally decides to retire if he should want to take that path. But, if it were me, after making such a fool out of myself to the entire world, I think I would take the resignation, buy his little book store in BFE and disappear from public view and hope that sooner or later everyone forgets and forgives his actions.
    Just because he is a General does not make him special, except for his military experience. But, what makes him so ordinary is his foolishness in making such dishonorable remarks.
    I do wish him the best and hope that God watches over Gen. Petraeus and our fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since the death toll is now over 5,500. Has this worth really been worth so many lost lives? And, if so, for what?

  5. The sad fact of this whole affair is that it was made possible (DIVISION VS. DEBATE) as Obama puts it ,precisely because of the unprecedented divisive statements and actions of the so called loyal opposition that the democrats engaged in after the invasion of Iraq which they themselves voted in favor of.but saw later as a good issue to gain seats despite its obvious harm to the cause

    • Norman Walters says:

      Sorry Philip but I think your remarks made it even more a “division” instead of debate. And, also, since I see that you are with the NYPD could there be some bias here? Bet you are a George Bush hero, right? But, I didnt see in your comments as to how much he made the entire country more divisive than in the prior fifty years. So, if we are going to be a Bush and Fox News fan, lets be a little more like CNN and be truly fair and balanced unlike Fox that is so anti-Democrat, anti-Obama, anti-everythiing all because of the right wing bias of Rupert Murdoch.
      Just remember, and you look like you are old enough to have heard this one before, “there is always two sides to every story.” So instead of being biased and creating more division, especially in your position, one would think you would be a promoter of “united we stand, dividied we fall” philosophy instead.

      • Sorry Walters but only an Obama apologist could see CNN as a bastion of unbiased truth. It is funny how just like Obama you bring GWB in to the discussion and start blaming him for the current crisis.I am not a fan of the course of history in the last 10 years but I am knowledgable and honest enough to admit that the standards of politicians seeking higher office has resulting in what 69 years ago would have benn considered aiding and abetting the enemy. Our politicians are now people such as Blago and that toe tapping toilet stalker congressman. The word lie is never used , except by a senator like Gore against a sitting President (divisive or debatable ??). I am saddened by the state we have sunk too but in light of all the facts I find it hypocritical to shed a tear for Obama. The nomination of Gen Petreaus to lead in Afghanistan is the safest bet , yet if CNN ever played the remarks or questions that Obama made to the general when he was a senator, One may wonder which face of change is the real deal.

  6. Joseph Keary says:

    Well, I am a proud Fox News fan and feel they are “fair and balanced”, unlike the “koolaid drinking” pro-liberals of CNN and (even worse) MSNBC. That said, my opinion on GEN McChrystal is that he had to be relieved. It is one thing to disagree with your boss (the CINC, the Chairman of the JCS, the CENTCOM Cdr) in a private, personal meeting.

    I think that leaders have to be open to that sort of discussion in a private, confidential forum. But, to disrespect the President and his staff and to do it in a national publication is outrageous. I mean, we are a Nation at war, and with every conflict, any public disrespect like this is soothing to the hearts and minds of our enemies. Remember Vietnam? The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong loved to see pictures and read of the dissent in our Nation over the war – its one of the reasons we lost the war!

    So, while GEN McChrystal has the right to feel the way he does about some of the people and the situation, he has a responsibility to use his judgement and to filter what he says and who he says it to. He especially has a responsibility to the young men and women who are fighting the war – he has deprived them of continuity of command at a critical point in the campaign. They are forced to have their Commander rotate out at a very trying time – all because their CG was unable to exercise judgement and restraint at the time it was needed.

    Funny that GEN McChrystal wants the warfighters to exercise restraint when they are shot at (to minimize civilian casualties) but he is unable to exercise restraint when approached by a reporter from Rolling Stone – a publication that I would not characterize as a news publication, but more of entertainment.

    And, finally – I would investigate his staff to determine who made the other comments to the reporter and compel their resignation(s) also.

  7. The whole situation is disheartening. It is just a shame that Gen McChrystal is going out this way. He achieved many great accomplishments and successes that I hope do not get lost in the media frenzy.

    I find it extremely annoying that people are so quick to judge and throw stones when they go soley off of what the media is pertraying and they haven’t even read the whole article nor understand it in full. Obviously he used poor judgement in regards to allowing a reporter to follow him as he has admitted. The man is smart and knew exactly what he was/is doing.

    I personally admire the man and appreciate all the sacrifices he has made and for his dedication to protecting our country.

  8. Mike Karlin says:

    My thoughts on this:

    McChrystal is not dumb by any means – while our “Commander & Chief” busys himself playing round after round of golf, taking weeks to fulfill McChrystal’s request for additional troops and informing the world he was so-o-o busy taking care of domestic issues while apologizing to our allies and Biden sticking his two cents in, McChrystal saw his suggestions and efforts going no place and hitting hurdle after hurdle. I believe (and yes I may be very, very wrong) that the General planned this to get out of a situation while not looking as if he was quitting.

    I served under Westmoreland in Viet-Nam and when the general returned home from Viet-Nam in 1968 this is how he was greeted:

    Westmoreland was criticized as the general who “won every battle until [he] lost the war.”

    In closing, Norman maybe, just maybe, you should stray away from the ultra Liberal and biased CNN and MSNBC for a while and get a grasp on what is really going on in the world.Fox News looks at both sides of the coin both pro and con not just one sided, while reporting the facts.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

  9. K. King says:

    I’ve read all the comments made and all are good and insightful comments. Considering that none of us work within the WH or are the staff of the CG we can only agree on one thing as former service members. You do not question what your superior officer commands you to do. We’ve all been put in the position of thinking our Colonel was crazy to have such a high OPTEMPO or our NCOIC in our opinion had unrealistic expectations to met mission when we were short personnel, supplies and time. We’ve all had private conversations about how we would have done it differently or better but while in formation no one would ever raise their hand to speak against what was being disseminated to the troops. Most of us have seen public affair announcements that news crews would be on post/base and what we were allowed to say and NOT say. There’s a reason for that. You never under mind your commander. It brings division among the ranks. How can that CG tell his COL to execute an order when the COL thinks it’s the wrong plan and his men will die or suffer injury from it. This type of behavior in the military is just unacceptable and Norman laid it out for us. This is not to say the CG serve was not honorable but in the situation, which is the statements made in an entertainment magazine, require that commander be removed. As a soldier (which he is) we don’t have the same rights to the 1st amendment that civilians are able to exercise. Someone commented that the actions may have been purposeful to have an exit out of the position. There’s a better way to do that. You have Soldiers that are going to be more outspoken because they think they can, that small liberty in war time can cost lives.

  10. Michael Fanelli says:

    Great comments but consistent among most of them is that the issue was criticism of your commander, whether we agree with it, in public is not the correct avenue to change your commander’s position. I am not an Obama fan but he did not have a choice in removing the General. The Rolling Stone magazine is not the correct medium for he opinions.

  11. Mark Carey says:

    I agree any commander must be releived that openly discredits of defames the CINC and/or civilian leadership under all but unlawful and/or unconstitutional circumstances.

    What I, as a soldier of many years realizes, is this is not political and the comments of his staff are not meant to be political, but a rebuke of the support players (Jones, Holbrooke, State, USAID, OGA’s, etc) inaction or complete failure so far.

    Unfortunately, the Rolling Stone article and media pundits cloud the issue and the real issues continue to elude the understanding of our fellow citizens. The executive braches that are prosecuting this battle / COIN op in Afghanistan are failing to focus and provide positive action on the ground! The State Dept, USAID, OGA’s, IMF, NGO’s and others that should be assisting or taking the lead (after ground is fought for and held) are woefully understaffed, poorly led and standing on the sidelines for a variety of reasons.

    Our CinC (President Obama) must lead, but that seems to be a stretch for him and his team. Our presidents bench of supporting players (cabinet level to three layers down), other than a few like Sec Gates and Sec Clinton, seem to be woefully uninvolved, poorly trained or fully disregard their tasking to support the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Outside of the toothy parts of DOD, we have neither the stomach, will or proper understanding of COIN to successfully prosecute this battle in Afghanistan to a stable conclusion (a government that cares for and controls it’s populace) and is no longer a threat to our way of life.

    I hope that our fellow citizens come to a true understanding of the cost of losing and our President redoubles his teams efforts or changes the strategy to one that is plausible for our level of competentence and enthusiasm.

  12. Don Holloway says:

    General McChrystal is a hero, but the president is his commander. If he’s a general, he knows the rules. I served for 20+ years and would never have dreamed of making such disparaging comments about a commander. Actions like that ruin discipline within the entire unit. He had to be relieved.

  13. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Michael Hrycak says:

    During our military training, starting at the ROTC level through Command and General Staff College, we were reminded of our role as military leaders and at what point civilian leadership took charge.

    Of course GEN McChrystal’s comments should have remained private, but this also begs the question of who was dealing with the reporter? It just seems a little too easy to blame a theater commander for comments that usually wouldn’t see the light of day. As much as a commander being relieved in this situation seems proper, what about all the commentary that continues to this day from the civilian leadership’s side, e.g. VP Biden’s “strategy” and commentary vs. GEN McChrystal’s strategy (approved by POTUS.

    President Obama needs to clean house on the civilian side as well. The troops on the ground just had the highest casualty rate and there was no doubt that the administration policy was being followed. Why would the Washington talking heads promote disunity in the face of the enemy by showing our public’s weak willed support of our armed forces?

    My last observation regarding the media- while in Iraq during 2006-2007 I served on a 11-man Transition Team. Only once did a Newsweek reporter show up to one of our missions. We had handed over our FOB to our Iraqi Security Force counterparts. To his credit the Newsweek reporter was the sole western media representative. He was also fairly well informed. But when he asked me about conditions on the border, which was about 300 plus Km’s away, I suggested that he was welcome to accompany us when we visited our Iraqi outposts. Nothing ever came of it most probably because these border missions took about a week each time.

    The media uses stringers and at the time I was in Iraq they mostly reported when Quick Reaction Forces were called out during an attack on Coalition Forces. It was easy, time efficient and only the stringers were risking their lives.

  14. Rob Sisente says:

    McChrystal’s choice of words and those of his staff were wrong, but let’s put aside the pettiness of that matter and get down to what this is really about. The timing couldn’t have been better for the Obama administration, as they are feeling the heat from not only the oil spill, but the rising support for Arizona. This is a “flex of muscle” to show who is in charge.
    Yes, I am a former soldier, yes, I believe McChrystal has every right to voice his opinion, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done anything different given the same situation. In today’s society, we have become a “don’t step on someone’s toes, or piss someone off” for fear of “hurting someone’s feelings” Well, I am here to tell you, life is not fair. I applaud McChrystal’s poise through the entire process, but I disagree with Obama’s decision. I have to also disagree to a point about speaking out about leadership. As evident in every combat situation, if the orders are wrong, it is a soldier’s duty to point that out, or strongly oppose such orders. Do any of us here know exactly what the agenda set forth by the current administration is? Probably not! Does anyone here know exactly what orders have, or have not been given? Probably not! Does anyone here even know what other conversations have been had between Obama and McChrystal previous to this incident? I would again, say, the answer is no. Given that, with other “areas” of what I myself would call “mis-direction” (Arizona, the oil spill, bail out of the banks, etc) I would say I disapprove of almost everything our current “Commander in Chief” has put forward. Granted, we do not live in a dictatorship, and he is not the supreme commander, but he is at the helm of a misguided ship on its present course.

  15. IMHO…General Mc will retire and go on a tour firing shots over the bow of Obama, Bite Me and Hillary (State Dept). He was a warrior, honorable and saw fit to speak his mind about the suits trying to manage a war! Obama and Bite Me should not be in the same room as our military leaders when trying to manage a war! Gen Mc just stated what most of our military leaders may believe… Obama is a insult to our nation and we need another president in 2012. We need Colin Powell!

  16. Rob Sisente says:

    I have to add a comment in regards to this entire post. I can only assume those of us following this are former or current soldiers. Following this post I have noticed that unlike many other similar posts, that this one has not turned towards an ugly, name calling battle. A true testiment to our training and character. I salute you all….

  17. Let us hope McC writes a book before opening up his Book Store as he said he would do when he retires. Look forward to reading his book.

  18. Charles E. Hightower says:

    I’m Retire SFC US Army June 1970 – July 1992 you neither talk to Press. I hate to see General McChrystal lose his Commander

  19. IMHO He resigned to take the high road and also made a statement! I would rather resign my post than follow a leader that is incompetent and gets my troops killed! God Bless GEN McC

  20. Xavier Etienne says:

    Since when the Armed Forces think a journalist is a friend specially a guy from the Rolling Stone Mag. If the US Armed Forces created a dedicated service to handle the task there certainly a reason. There is no doubt that General Mc Chrystal will be remembered as a great officer but in that circumstance he did not act with a clear wit and President Obama assumed his responsibilities like any other President would have acted.

  21. It is an offense under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for a serving commissioned officer to make public disparaging remarks about elected and other senior officials.

    While many of us can empathize and even agree with General McChrystal, his comments in the Rolling Stone about the President and Vice-President and other senior officals were out of line.

    I am a decorated combat veteran and a retied senior Army officer with 30 years of service. I did not vote for this President, I do not agree with his domestic or foreign policy, I feel the direction he is taking this country in terms of national security, foreign policy, domestic policy is 180 degrees in the wrong direction, but if I were a serving officer instead of retired, I would not publicly criticize him. Civilian control of the military is a hallmark of this nation, even if the current civilian control of our military is inept, misguided and unethical.

    If General McChrystal felt this strongly about the President and his National Security team, he should have resigned his position and retied and then voice his opinion instead of being thrown out in disgrace. While many of us empathize and even strongly agree with the General’s views, his public airing of them is unsupportable.

  22. Chris Cannaday says:

    Just my two cents, but I think General Mc did what any sensible strategist would have done in his position. He switched tactics.

    If private discussion with the civilian leadership isn’t working then bring the discussion out into the public (which is exactly what he did). To put it another way, he sacrificed his career to force Obama and his administration to make changes in the way the war was being fought.

    Since he was probably the ONLY person in the entire chain of command who could do that without getting sent to jail- I think it was very honorable of him to do so. But, like I said, this is just my two cents. I don’t know any more about what was going on behind the scenes than anyone else. I could be completely wrong.

  23. Matt Budde says:

    I am completely anti-Obama, but you don’t disrespect your civilian leadership regardless of how incompetent a leader they may be; if you can’t manage up then you shouldn’t be leading and being responsible for thousands of troops.
    I understand the frustration and agree with the Generals comments, but sorry, you got to go. Good luck to McChrystal and to Petraeus.

  24. Jason Hastings says:

    There really should be no discussion here. Every one on this list knows that GEN McChrystal and his staff were wrong. Regardless of their personal feelings about the soon-to-be-one-term-president, he still occupies the office of commander in chief, and the general and his staff knew better. They would not tolerate open insolence by their juniors either.

    (NOTE: I couldn’t bring myself to actually call him our commander in chief. But I can say that-I’m retired Army officer.)

  25. Greg Greiner says:

    I think that the General did a very courageous thing. As you all know, General Officers rarely do anything that is not calculated.
    In my humble opinion, he took one for the team.
    It seems amazingly selfless – especially since he devoted his entire life to the Army, and he must have known that he would be relieved of his Command.

    I wish someone in the media would recognize him for doing what was right – even when it meant the ultimate personal sacrifice.

    Thank you, Sir.

    JAG Officer, Senior Defense Counsel, 22nd LSO at United States Army Reserve

  26. President Obama is now in an interesting situation. General Petraeus is a proven commander. There is little question in anyone’s mind, in the military or out, that General Petraeus knows his business.

    General McChrystal has raised questions about President Obama’s leadership in a very public way. General McChrystal is a career Special Forces bubba. My experience with that community is that they don’t say anything without first calculating its affect.

    I think the end result here is that General McChrystal left General Petraeus with the strategic high hand. If President Obama now disagrees with General Petraeus, everyone will know that President Obama is the problem, not the Generals. I think maybe General McChrystal fell on his sword for the benefit of his successor.

  27. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Michael Hrycak says:

    This remains an issue of ethics. GEN McChrystal fell on his sword, as several comments have suggested. He left on the high ground and he will now retire, as many of us have, and hopefully this will become a topic for Officer and NCO Professional Development for current leaders.

    There wasn’t much room for anyone’s imagination when VP Biden was the administration representative at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.

    With troops in harm;s way in two major combat theaters of operation no true leader would do that. Talking the talk is nowhere near walking the walk!

    Our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen deployed overseas have children and families that should get a message of support from the chief executive, not a failure of Leadership 101.

  28. Rob Sisente says:

    The greatest tragedy of the whole thing is we, as soldiers, and former, are held, and hold ourselves in a higher standard than that of our civilian leadership. Where else could someone cheat on their taxes, their spouse, the public they serve, and still be allowed to hold office!!!!

    Yes, we are held to these higher standards, but as leaders, our civilian leadership should take a long hard look in the mirror before passing judgment, on anyone.

  29. Rob Sisente — Excellent point. Thank you all.

  30. I am a 4 year Army guy. Had barracks in 4 countries including Viet Nam…65 – 69. I have kept up on the post and agree 100% with Rob Sisente as to the conduct of YOU ALL, It such a shame that the political arm of our government doesn’t have a code of conduct. The good General knew what he was doing just like you knew what you were doing —- Serving your country the best you could..

  31. There is nothing particularly “honorable” about insubordination—especially for no other apparent reason than to let off some steam.

    • Mark you are so correct. When a soldier feels his upper rank is making a GRAVE mistake and is causing or about to cause deaths that can be avoided by a different action.

      I would think the subordinate had a responsibility to bring it to the attention of their commander. When that commander fails to accept the error of his way then the subordinate has to do whatever he can to save the lives of his personnel as well as the overall mission.

      I agree with and uphold the intent of the uniform code of justice. The subordinate has to be disciplined and was. In the case of GEN McChrystal he has changed the face of the war which I feel was his intent and was for good cause and if there was steam it burned enough to get the Pres attention and others.

      Case in point: had a subordinate questioned the command of Lt. Kelly (Viet Nam) hundreds of innocents would have been spared. The uniform code has it’s purpose but there is a purpose far greater than it.

      Our responsibility to All of Man not a select few, be it religion, political party, race, sex you add on to the list.

      • Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Michael Hrycak says:

        Nomon, you have made a valuable observation. LT Calley was convicted as a result of a 19 year old Soldier who had questioned his command to execute the villagers and refused to participate in the atrocity. This proved the intent of what Calley had done.

        Unfortunately, his Company Commander, CPT Medina, who had ordered Calley to take care of the village, and some witnesses had seen at the scene of the incident, LTC Barker, his Battalion Commander, and COL Henderson, the Brigade Commander, denied ordering Calley into My Lai. CPT Medina was never promoted to major and left the Army, but later recanted his testimony during an interview and COL Henderson, who had investigated the massacre by calling Medina’s company together and asking everyone at once if any indiscriminate killing had taken place, was the only officer court martialed and tried – although found not guilty. Not a high water mark of leadership.

        While serving in Iraq I found it imperative to strive for exemplary conduct by our Soldiers. To their credit they performed admirably in a very tough environment. I remember a general officer suggesting that my 11-man Transition Team go to the border and check for TFF (Terrorists and Foreign Fighters). This was while his Brigade and Division cells were receiving daily and monthly reports, respectively, and we had a quarterly plan for missions to the border. The proper action was to request proper guidance and authorization – which required a written order. Things went back on track almost immediately – imagine that.

        We experienced some Soldiers who reacted to stress, and only one of the members of our team deserved a court martial for sleeping with an interpreter – but my Team Chief gave him a BSM (Bronze Star Medal) instead – I found out about the transgressions about three and a quarter months after redeploying to CONUS – but they both made my list (sorry Nomon, my list of undesirables).

  32. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Michael Hrycak says:

    I apologize for an inaccuracy.

    CPT Medina was tried by court martial and found not guilty, as were eight other Soldiers. COL Henderson was the only officer charged for covering up the massacre of the original 14 accused. He initially ordered CPT Medina to the village to investigate and his chain of command ordered him to recall the investigation – or so he interpreted. Both Medina and Henderson were in the command helicopter and could see down into the village when the massacre occurred. Henderson had given the platoon a pep talk to bring up the weapons count to the body count, after which Medina had another session with the men.

  33. Keyausha King says:

    Just in case some have not had the opportunity to read the article from the Rolling Stone Magazine, here’s the link:

  34. Sir the entire mess is confusing but this was a true disaster because “The Honor ” to which Americans should hold themselves to had failed. Most of then tried to cover it up or better yet to cover their on butt.

    Regardless of where we are, In Church, In Politics, In the Military, at work every place we are.

    Americans stand should be a place of honesty to our fellow man more than any-other. Especially when there is a “WRONG” involved.

    We are Americans. We stand united for the better good for all man. No Race, No Political Party, No Denomination, No Club nor a difference in rank or position should stand in our way of being Honest, Fair, Just and caring for those that need help.

    Thank you for your Correction, Michael.

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