McChrystal had other issues than the Rolling Stone article
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write my thoughts on the "firing" of General Stan McChrystal over his remarks in Rolling Stone magazine. These remarks were critical of the Vice President and the entire U.S. diplomatic effort in Afghanistan. Rather than draw conclusions from all the talking head commentary on radio and TV, I decided to wait until I actually read that Rolling Stone magazine article entitled "Runaway General." Mission accomplished.
The crux of General McChrystal’s "resignation" was initiated by the lengthy time spent with a reporter in Paris and in Afghanistan. In developing support for his concept of counter-insurgency or COIN, the general and his staff allowed press interviews with the Rolling Stone reporter and other members of the media — interviews that were too friendly and informal, by a bunch. The general committed political suicide by bad-mouthing his superiors, including Vice President Biden and expressing disappointment with the president, along with several members of the diplomatic team. "Loose lips sink ships," and he definitely had a disastrous case of those loose lips.
Should the general have been fired for his and his staff’s derogatory comments? Yes, clearly so. Did the president properly handle this major relief of command? Absolutely, professionally done. Bravo, Mr. President. Well, what’s the issue? Isn’t the case now closed on this affair? No.
Although the Rolling Stone piece did provide us with the details of what McChrystal said: "are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who’s that?" Biden," suggests a top advisor. "Did you say: Bite Me?"
There are many other details in his military life that lead to his current career demise in my opinion. This general’s record of performance from his trouble-making background at West Point, through trying to cover-up the friendly fire death of former professional football star and then Ranger, Pat Tillman, to allegations of his support of the torture of prisoners at Camp Nama in Iraq, should have been enough to demote him, not promote him, to the powerful wartime command he held.
Perhaps the most disturbing trait General McChrystal seemed to possess, according to the magazine piece, was his development of cronies he surrounded himself with, called "Team America" to themselves.
These supportive "yes men" cronies "pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority." I have seen this type of leadership failure before, but I don’t exactly understand how a professional officer moves away from the principles he has learned through education and training, to what General McChrystal eventually became.
There is a definite character flaw here somewhere that is difficult to capture. Admittedly, those of us on the "conventional" forces majority of the Army have never understood the small, elite "Green Beret" side. Even though this article chronicled "the Runaway General’s" bad behavior from West Point forward, that bad-boy behavior does serve a worthwhile purpose in secret, Special Forces black operations, but not in strategic high command leadership. Unfortunately, our national leaders found that out a little late.
McChrytal’s replacement, General David Petraeus, has already proved he is the right strategic commander in Iraq. If we are to win in Afghanistan, changes in the rules of engagement and changes in theater operational and strategic policies must be made. I have every confidence in the leadership skills of General David Petraeus. He is the right man for the job. General McChrystal never was.