Lack Of Experience Deadly For Troops

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Lack Of Experience Deadly For Troops
Tue, 06-22-2010 - 11:57am

The price being paid for a "Commander In Chief" who lacks experience is showing; God bless the troops:

Gen. McChrystal to apologize in Washington for anti-administration comments

By Ernesto Londoño and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 22, 2010; 10:52 AM

KABUL -- The top U.S. general in Afghanistan is headed to Washington to apologize for a magazine profile that includes highly critical remarks by him and his staff about top Obama administration officials involved in Afghanistan policy.

The article in this week's Rolling Stone magazine is certain to increase tension between the White House and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. The profile of McChrystal, titled the "Runaway General," also raises fresh questions about the judgment and leadership style of the commander appointed by President Obama last year in an effort to turn around a worsening conflict.

McChrystal and some of his senior advisers are quoted speaking derisively of top administration officials, often in sharply flippant and dismissive terms. An anonymous McChrystal aide is quoted as calling national security adviser James L. Jones a "clown," who remains "stuck in 1985."

Referring to Richard C. Holbrooke, Obama's senior envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, one McChrystal aide is quoted as saying: "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous."

On one occasion, McChrystal appears to react with exasperation when he receives an e-mail from Holbrooke. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," McChrystal says, according to the article. "I don't even want to read it."

The story also features an exchange in which McChrystal and some of his aides appear to mock Vice President Biden, who opposed McChrystal's troop surge recommendation last year and instead urged a more focused emphasis on counterterrorism operations. Preparing for a speech he is about to give at a French military academy, McChrystal "wonders aloud" whether he will questioned about the well-publicized differences in opinion between himself and Biden.

"Are you asking me about Vice President Biden? Who's that?" McChrystal says with a laugh, trying out the line as a hypothetical response to the anticipated query.

"Biden?" chimes in an aide who is seated nearby, and who is not named in the article. "Did you say Bite me?"

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired three-star general who has sharp policy differences with McChrystal, isn't spared either. Referring to a leaked cable from Eikenberry that expressed concerns about the trustworthiness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, McChrystal is quoted as having said: "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.' "

The magazine hits newsstands Friday and could be posted online earlier as early as Tuesday. The Washington Post received an advance copy of the article from its author, Michael Hastings, a freelance journalist who has written for The Post in the past.

The comments by McChrystal and his staff, many of whom were quoted anonymously, surfaced on the eve of the president's monthly meeting with his top advisers on Afghanistan, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday.

McChrystal typically joins that meeting by a secure videoconference from Afghanistan, but he was summoned to Washington to participate directly and explain his remarks, a senior administration official said Tuesday morning. The meeting, includes Biden and many of the other advisers whom McChrystal or his staff mocked in the article.

"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile," McChrystal said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. "It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and it should have never happened."

McChrystal's civilian press aide, Duncan Boothby, submitted his resignation Tuesday as a result of the article, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a personnel issue.

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment on the piece.

Lt. Col. Joseph Breasseale, a U.S. military spokesman, said McChrystal called Biden and other senior administration officials Tuesday morning (Monday evening in Washington) in reference to the article. "After these discussions, he decided to travel to the U.S. for a meeting," Breasseale said in an e-mail.

Officials in Washington who were familiar with the situation said the general apologized to Biden during the phone call.

It is not the first time that McChrystal has been dressed down by Obama. Shortly after the general's assessment of the situation in Afghanistan was made public last year, McChrystal gave a speech in London in which he publicly criticized those who advocated a scaled-back effort in Afghanistan.

Those comments were widely seen as being directed against Biden, who had promoted an approach in the country focused on targeting terrorists more narrowly. After that speech, an angry Obama summoned McChrystal to a face-to-face meeting on Air Force One in Copenhagen, where Obama had arrived to pitch Chicago's Olympic bid.

White House officials declined to comment publicly Tuesday morning, but the latest public relations blunder by McChrystal was viewed as sure to further strain his relationship with a president who puts a premium on message discipline and loyalty.

The timing of the piece could hardly be worse. Amid a flurry of bad news in Afghanistan and a jump in NATO casualties, U.S. lawmakers and senior officials from NATO allied countries are asking increasingly sharp questions about the U.S.-led war strategy.

Dutch and Canadian troops are scheduled to pull out within the next year. And the White House has said it will start drawing down U.S. forces next July. (Photos of recent troop activities in Kandahar, Afghanistan)

Most of the critical remarks in the article come from aides to the general, rather than McChrystal himself. Many of the quotes are anonymous. The magazine story also includes descriptions of McChrystal's staff drinking heavily at an Irish pub in Paris, "two officers doing an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance," and advisers singing a slurred, intoxicated songs whose only lyrics seem to be "Afghanistan, Afghanistan."

The profile includes criticism that McChrystal is facing from some of his own troops, who have grown frustrated with new rules that force commanders be extraordinarily judicious in using lethal force.

A few weeks ago, according to the magazine, the general traveled to a small outpost in Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan, to meet with a unit of soldiers reeling from the loss of a comrade, 23-year-old Cpl. Michael Ingram.

The corporal was killed in a booby-trapped house that some of the unit's commanders had unsuccessfully sought permission to blow up.

One soldier at the outpost showed Hastings, who was traveling with the general, a written directive instructing troops to "patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourself with lethal force."

During a tense meeting with Ingram's platoon, one sergeant tells McChrystal: "Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir."

McChrystal has championed a counterinsurgency strategy that prioritizes protecting the population as a means to marginalize and ultimately defeat the insurgency. Because new rules sharply restrict the circumstances under which airstrikes and other lethal operations that have resulted in civilian casualties can be conducted, some soldiers say the strategy has left them more exposed.

June is on track to be the deadliest month for NATO troops in Afghanistan since the war began nearly nine years ago. At least 63 NATO troops have been killed so far this month, including 10 who died Monday in a helicopter crash and a series of attacks.

In his statement, McChrystal says he has "enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team."

"Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity," the general said. "What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard."

More Washington Post coverage of Afghanistan:


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-25-2010
Fri, 06-25-2010 - 7:40pm
He had no choice. But the next phase is to stop nation building and hunt down the reason for being there; Al-Qaida. Nation building is NOT ever in our best interest. A merciless hunt of the terrorists is.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2010
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 8:26pm

Yip, best general to have taken the post as of yet. And that best general's opinion is that if the Afghanistan operation is going to fail it will be due to mistakes made by this idiot administration.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-04-2001
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 5:18pm

Must be tough

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2010
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 8:53am

"Obama's dismissal of McChrystal, 55, calmed fears within his own party that he might look weak if he refused to confront the general."

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2004
Thu, 06-24-2010 - 6:50am

Whatever else goes on, it appears the Biden ego never rests. . .:

Gen. McChrystal is dismissed as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

By Scott Wilson and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 24, 2010; A01

President Obama dismissed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Wednesday after concluding that his military chief in Afghanistan had badly damaged the chain of command and could no longer work effectively with the civilian leadership at a crucial moment in the war.

White House officials said Obama's decision, made over a tense 40 hours, pitted his desire to retain a talented general who designed the Afghan strategy against the importance of preserving the authority of the commander in chief. Ultimately, his decision to turn over the Afghan command to Gen. David H. Petraeus allowed the president to keep his war strategy intact, given the general's key role in formulating it last year, and changed the calculus of a choice that once seemed to have no political upside.

Obama's dismissal of McChrystal, 55, calmed fears within his own party that he might look weak if he refused to confront the general. Meanwhile, Petraeus's appointment, expected to sail through the Senate confirmation process, drew praise from congressional Republicans, who provide crucial support for a war that a majority of Americans routinely say is no longer worth fighting.

"War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president," Obama said in a Rose Garden announcement. "And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security."

The announcement effectively ended McChrystal's 34-year Army career less than two days after the publication of a Rolling Stone article featuring disparaging remarks by the general and his fiercely loyal staff about some of Obama's senior civilian advisers, including Vice President Biden, who argued against McChrystal's strategy last year.

The fallout from the profile laid bare the dysfunctional relationships among senior civilian and military officials responsible for the Afghan campaign, and undermined the methodical competence that the president has sought to bring to his management of the nine-year-old war.

McChrystal's departure played out against a faltering campaign in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, rising U.S. and NATO casualties on the battlefield, and delays in a Kandahar offensive that has been described as the linchpin to the war effort. Obama faces an uncertain partner in Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who lobbied against McChrystal's dismissal, and pervasive corruption that is undermining the attempt to build a viable Afghan state.

Obama called Karzai on Wednesday to inform him of his decision; he also called British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose office later announced that British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the deputy commander of international forces in Afghanistan, would lead the operation pending Petraeus's confirmation.

James L. Jones, Obama's national security adviser, called NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his counterparts in half a dozen countries, including France. McChrystal and his aides had mocked the French in the article.

"This position involves managing our international partners, and there really had been some damage done there as well," said a senior administration official, who added that Obama explained to Karzai during their call the importance of defending the chain of command.

If confirmed by the Senate, Petraeus, 57, will take control of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which comprises nearly 100,000 U.S. troops and about 40,000 forces from other countries. He currently heads the U.S. Central Command, in charge of South Asia and the Middle East.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said he plans to hold Petraeus's confirmation hearing no later than Tuesday.

Said a senior administration official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations: "It's as seamless as it could be, not only in terms of operations but also because you put someone in who's widely respected. No one is going to doubt that he's the right guy for the job."

Petraeus, as U.S. commander in Iraq, implemented the troop "surge" that helped change the course of the war there and endorsed the plan that Obama approved after the three-month Afghan strategy review last fall. He has, however, played down the importance of a planned December progress evaluation that civilian officials say will be important in determining the future of the mission.

Petraeus's high profile led to talk of him as a potential presidential candidate. He has said he has no such aspirations and his appointment to the Afghan command effectively ends any possibility of a campaign in 2012. In his remarks, the president said he is "extraordinarily grateful" to Petraeus for taking a job that, on military flow charts, is a demotion.

"This is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy," he said.

Biden alerted Obama to the Rolling Stone article Monday evening after he received an apology call from McChrystal as he returned to Washington from Illinois aboard Air Force Two, White House officials said. From the residence, Obama called White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for a copy of the profile, which many of his senior advisers had been mulling over for several hours.

After reading it himself, Obama headed to the Oval Office, where Gibbs, National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis R. McDonough, senior adviser David Axelrod and Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, had assembled. Jones and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had left the building but quickly returned for the impromptu meeting.

By the end of the session, White House officials said, the question had already been raised: Can McChrystal continue in his post?

The following morning, Obama took up the issue during his daily intelligence briefing, which he holds with Biden. Hours later, the two held their weekly private lunch, and officials said the discussion focused in part on McChrystal.

Petraeus was first suggested as a possible successor to McChrystal a few hours later in a Tuesday afternoon meeting Obama held with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, officials said. By that evening, Petraeus was on a list of possible replacements that the Pentagon had drawn up at the president's request.

Obama fired McChrystal -- officially he accepted his resignation -- on Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes. The president had decided, as he said later in the Rose Garden, that "the conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general."

"It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system," he added. "And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan."

Immediately after meeting with McChrystal, Obama gathered Biden, Emanuel, Jones, Gibbs and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Oval Office. Their 45-minute meeting produced a consensus around Petraeus, who had been waiting in the West Wing after being asked to arrive early for the monthly Afghanistan review session in the Situation Room.

Obama and Petraeus then met privately for 40 minutes. The president asked him to step down as head of the Central Command, which is based in Florida, and take over day-to-day control of the Afghan war.

The president's advisers said that Petraeus agreed to do so, but that it was clear to Obama that it came "at some great personal sacrifice." Asked to describe it, one senior administration official said: "Tampa to Kabul."

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2010
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 11:30pm

>>> If we have Generals that are out there saying this kind of stuff, they are putting our country at risk.

What did McCrystal say that put our country at risk? Specifically, please.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2010
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 8:23pm
I'll be looking forward to your response. :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2010
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 7:54pm
It's well known those two do not represent the entire military population.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2007
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 5:46pm

Can't talk to son right now, he's off again taking courses. I do know that from Oct-Dec., they weren't "hiring". Son should be back on his base next Friday

Most of my Uncles are no longer alive. As of right now I have one other cousin that is still in the military. But I've not seen him for years.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2010
Wed, 06-23-2010 - 5:04pm
There are still people that get through that do things to get out of duty. Ask your son what the percentage is of dishonorably discharged is as of late. And how is that of itself an insult to military, I still don't understand the logic. Have you talked with any of your relatives about the overall feeling in their respective branches