Thursday, June 24, 2010

General McChrystal Returns Home

General Stanley McChrystal was in charge and responsible for the Afghanistan theater of war, a difficult and dangerous place where men under his command were dying every week. It was the hottest war zone at the time President Obama took office, and was the theater of operations that the president had been saying for years was where we should be fighting, where we should be placing our major military efforts to confront the terrorists responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center. It was the good war, so he said. It was the right war to fight, as opposed to that bad, unwinnable war in Iraq that Senator Obama had criticized President Bush and candidate McCain over, as he did, over and over again. And yet after all this rhetoric and political grandstanding, upon winning the office of the presidency he completely ignored General McChrystal and his command in Afghanistan.

In March of 2009 President Obama had given General McChyrstal the mission to secure the population and destroy the terrorists that oppose us. McChystal generated a plan to pacify the area. The plan was geared toward killing the Taliban. To that end General McChrystal needed a significant increase in force to provide security and safety to the population areas while McChyrstal and his special ops units would go out at night to seek and kill the enemy. As the Washington Post reviewed in this article of December 2009, the general submitted his plan in August of 2009. On reviewing the plan in September, the president was frustrated by the plan's call to increase the force strength deployed. The plan's stated goal of destroying the terrorists that opposed us was thought by the president as a fools errand. Apparently he considered that to be a goal that was impossible to achieve. In answer, General McChyrstal replied that it was needed to complete his mission of destroying the terrorists forces that oppose us. Frustrated, the President stated he desired to stabilize and keep secure the Afghani government. The general had to refer the president back to his original order of March of 2009 before President Obama realized that the plan before him was directed to achieving the goals he had asked General McChyrstal to achieve.

To this plan President Obama said nothing...for months... while McChyrstal and his command continued to take casualties in a war the president clearly was not committed to fighting. Finally, after months of deliberations, months of political posturing, months of trillion dollar bailouts and private industry take overs, the President approved a plan for a surge in Afghanistan troop levels, but at only the minimum level McChyrstal thought was possible to have any chance of success.

The president supplied General McChyrstal with conflicting orders, conflicting goals, extreme delays in response, and in all this time only met with General McChrystal twice. Then the Rolling stone article came out. Suddenly General Stanley McChystal is summoned to Washington to meet with the President. Suddenly the President's war in Afghanistan was an item of interest. Suddenly the commander in chief is chapped and we're being distracted from an enormously important mission. It's ass kicking time.

No Mr. President, what you're up to isn't ass kicking. Ass kicking was what Stanley McChystal and his special ops guys were all about, going out into the dark of night to locate and kill a deadly enemy in a war that you left him and his command to fight.

Now he is stateside, and his command is the worse for it.


  1. This is a great piece, Nick.

  2. Great piece and I agree with you.