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Obama rebukes top U.S. commander in Afghanistan

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Taka,

I think it's pretty clear that he was forced to "resign". Obama's speach was very politely worded and made it very clear that he threw McChrystal out. The "resignation" is a formality. Whether McChrystal was pleading to keep his job or offered the resignation up of his own accord is unknown and, frankly, irrelevant. It was clear he was going to have to go one way or another.

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triumvere,

There's a big difference here. If he resigned, at least the last decision he made was a good one. If he had to be removed, he doesn't even have that going for him.

A 3-Star does not tolerate his staff referring to the Vice President as "bite me." A real 3-star has policy in place making that a total non-factor. I can guarantee that no officer where I work would have said those things about the Vice President. My Commander would have their heads. He's an order and discipline guy. As most 3-stars should be.

Taka

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Taka313 at 04:31 AM JST - 24th June

resigns? I thought he was fired.

Taka

He was resigned. He tendered his firing.

I heard we will need a lot more troops to have a successful counter-insurgency. I heard numbers as high as 150 thousand troops.

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resigns? I thought he was fired.

Taka

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McChrystal resigns, Patraeus takes over.

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McChrystal is out

He'll make a lot of money the book deal and lecture circuit.

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No political hick-hack and reshuffling will solve this mess.

The US should have withdrawn the moment the Afghan assembly wrote the Shariah into its constitution. They did not. Now, the US is stuck in the absurd position of having to protect a Shariah regime against a Shariah insurgency .... crazy.

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"Poor judgement", more like a soldier that doesn't like following orders aka insubordinate. This douchebag has a history of being a prima donna.

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McChrystal is out. < :-)

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If General McChrystal had a major that spoke to Rolling Stones with the same disrespect and supposed candor that McChrystal did, he'd be taken down in a heart beat. McChrystal couldn't have an Army of fighters that were supporting the major, all the while who are supposed to fighting a war and for their life.

Just plain stupid. < :-)

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RomeoRamenII,

He needed to let the American people know how inept this administration's disastrous Afghan strategy is.

Right he needed to open his mouth and say thing that cause the troops to say, HUH? The troops are in Afghanistan still because of the poor job that george bush did, but we now want to blame Obama. McChrystal has a requirement to keep these troops fighting, but opening his mouth doesn't do anything about building up morale, it does exactly the opposite.

Why would a commander want to demoralize his troops? Why would his lackeys want to demoralize the troops. Even if the war was the most incorrect action this country has ever done, you don't want to get into the minds of the troops and give some bad impressions.

I'm a MC vet, served in Vietnam and I think he opened his mouth inappropriately. This showed poor judgment and character traits of a whiner. The strategy for this war is McChrystal's. You want to complain about this strategy, then you're talking against McChrystal's war plans.

That's another big problem. This is McChrystal's war plans. If he retires or is replaced then someone has to pickup McChrystal's war plans and continue the war after his big mouth gaff.

If McChrystal has a problem with this war, then he needs to talk to Obama, not Rolling Stones. < :-)

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Should the general resign and retire? Of course. He violated 888. Article 88 of the UCMJ.

However, he knew exactly what he was doing and quite willing to accept the consequences. He needed to let the American people know how inept this administration's disastrous Afghan strategy is. As an Army retiree and Vietnam combat veteran, I think he showed great character.

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One of the many lessons the US failed to learn from the Vietnam war is that no military commander dares to tell his civilian bosses that the job they've been handed is hopeless and the country's best interests would be served by pulling out.

Beezlebub, this General DIDN'T tell his civilian bosses. He told the writer of an article for a national magazine. If this discussion had been limited to his civilian bosses there wouldn't be this problem and his career wouldn't be in jeopardy right now. He's already been rebuked by the Commander in Chief once for speaking out publicly about his superior and now he's gone and done it again. The military is NOT a place where the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In the military, the squeaky wheel gets replaced.

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I view this as one of the natural consequences of taking the military out of a purely military role and placing on them the responsibilities of nation-building and the kind of diplomatic relations with leaders once reserved for the State Department and the ambassador corps.

Someone mentioned the movie "Almost Famous." I'm wondering if a better example wouldn't be "Lawrence of Arabia."

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One of the many lessons the US failed to learn from the Vietnam war is that no military commander dares to tell his civilian bosses that the job they've been handed is hopeless and the country's best interests would be served by pulling out. Let's say for the sake of argument that McChrystal could get everything he wanted for a 'victory' in Afghanistan: 500,000 US troops on the ground, B52s, Agent Orange, the works. That would just create an even bigger quagmire, with a larger body count. What the US doesn't understand is that the days of neocolonialism are over, and that countries that are determined to resist with their people's wars can keep fighting for decades, knowing that American political will is eventually going to run out.

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The president shouldn't have to mull over firing Gen McCrystal. McCrystal should resign and save him the trouble.

Taka

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Karzai needs him and the Afghan people need and want him on the job to defeat the Taliban. I hope the egos and politics can be put aside and focus put back on the actual mission.

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I believe Gen McChrystal should tender his resignation letter to President Obama. It would be the honorable thing to do. General McChrystal crossed a line that should never have been crossed with his Commander and Chief.

President Obama should refuse to accept the resignation and tell General McChrystal to get his butt back to Afghanistan with his tail firmly tucked behind his legs after a good old fashion ass chewing and carry out the mission he has assigned to him.

The reason I'm taking this position is because of this........From another article.

Karzai weighed in from abroad,urging Obama to keep McChrystal as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The government in Kabul believes McChrystal is a man of strong integrity who has a strong understanding of the Afghan people and their culture, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said.

Too much at stake with Afghanistan and the fight against a resurgent Taliban in the south to play politics right now. Karzai backs him and since it is his country his word should be the deciding factor for President Obama if the General should go packing home or packing it back to Afghanistan.

My opinion on this.

Karzai needs him and the Afghan people need and want him on the job to defeat the Taliban. I hope the egos and politics

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"I think the Rollingstone writer wanted to write a "hatchet job" on McChrystal and the best he could come up with was a little "trash-talk" banter between the General and his staff. The writer was allowed to hang out for days and he become one of the boys (the one who couldn't kill anybody). "

You know, I wonder if McChrystal ever saw the movie ALMOST FAMOUS. It probably would have been very educational for him.

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"But I didn’t expect it from Gen McChrystal who has always presented himself as a “professional soldier”."

Yeah. Because Doug McArthur lost his job for the same reason, and he wasn't a professional soldier, right?

Let's face it. It is the "professional soldiers" you have to watch out for. This happens over and over because hot shots read Roman history and decide that the best way to power in the US is to be the big war hero. They push and shove and win their battles, and then they get talking out of school. They start thinking that they are diplomats or dictators, and then they get canned. That is how it ought to be. It does not matter if you are Billy Mitchell, Doug Mac, or Curtis LeMay: if you tangle with the CIC, you have to go down because the US is not a military dictatorship.

Someone at Rolling Stone should have taken him aside and whispered in his ear: sic transit gloria.

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"Wish the American people could fire OBAMA for "poor judgement" !"

They can. Next election. See that's how it works. Your wish is granted.

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I was quite surprised to hear about this – obviously this is not the first time a senior US military officer has expressed disagreement or contempt for either military or civilian leaders farther up the chain. But I didn’t expect it from Gen McChrystal who has always presented himself as a “professional soldier”.

The expectations in situations like this are very clear. If a senior officer disagrees with the mission, policy or direction that he has been tasked to execute, then he has a responsibility to bring that up. If the senior officer’s concerns are heeded and the policy changed, then all is well. If the senior officer’s concerns are noted, but he is told to again execute the mission as directed, then he has two choices.

If the senior officer has integrity, he will resign or retire. He will say that he in all good conscience cannot support the mission he has been given and will stand down so that someone can be selected that can support that mission.

If the senior officer values his career over his personal integrity, then he will go back and criticize his bosses; either openly or covertly – thereby decreasing morale, cohesion and ultimately, placing more troops at risk.

Bottom-line – Gen McChrystal crossed a “red line” that every military member that has taken an oath, from the youngest enlisted troop to the most senior General clearly understands – you do not criticize policy issued to you by your superiors, nor to you criticize them personally in public, and you do not tolerate it from your subordinates.

If Gen McChrystal has any personal integrity, he will volunteer to step down, rather than the President having to ask for his resignation.

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SuperLib - I don't think anyone wants "yes men." But I do think we want someone who doesn't express his dislike for things in a friggen Rolling Stone article.

I think the Rollingstone writer wanted to write a "hatchet job" on McChrystal and the best he could come up with was a little "trash-talk" banter between the General and his staff. The writer was allowed to hang out for days and he become one of the boys (the one who couldn't kill anybody).

After reading the article, I don't see any reason to bring McChrystal all the way back to the U.S.. Obama should have told him to keep his trash-talking private and let him go back to running the war.

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McChrystal was just venting, though they should know best at their level that there is zero tolerance for airing dirty laundry about your superiors in public. Like it or not, you need to pay the king his schilling when in senior leadership. As Beavis says....FIRE....FIRE, FIRE, FIRE, FIRE....

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While I may be critical of US Military Deployment on Okinawa, I certainly am not anti military. Gen McChrystal should not give interviews to Rolling Stone Magazine, but the fact that he did points to the humor in how US Politicians who try to direct Military Engagements, especially in Afghanistan, who harbor terrorists, should first consider what a commander in chief really means; I think taking 1 million dollars from BP Chief prior to his election was an indication of why the oil problem has taken so long to fix which is damaging to the ocean environment and to peoples lives and just as bad as US Policy allowing our coral reef to be damaged. Politicians need to get their priorities straight. Gen McChrystal from what I read is a true leader which I have my doubts about on Mr. Obama or Mr. Kan, or Koizumi, or Also, or the space cadet Mr. Last for a few months. I have already forgotten his name.

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Wish the American people could fire OBAMA for "poor judgement" !

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It's all for the lithium...

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"McChrystal will be lucky to keep his job"

Obama will be lucky to keep his job if he actually runs for re-election.

McChrystal should not have done the interview with Rolling Stone. But a much more serious mistake was Obama waiting months to decide to send more troops to Afghanistan.

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djuice: If you want "yes men" then get a new general. If you want someone to give it to you the way it really is, then keep him on. I am deeply disappointed by the general's apology

I don't think anyone wants "yes men." But I do think we want someone who doesn't express his dislike for things in a friggen Rolling Stone article.

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Just read the article. McChrystal was honest and painfully blunt about the situation. It's actually kind of nice to hear some plain talk about how messed up the current strategy of rebuilding the Afghan country is. The president gave him a job to do and then tied his hands, an aggravating position for anybody. Best solution would be to send him back to overseeing our black ops where he was before. The U.S military is the greatest war machine on the face of the earth but it’s not built to fix things, especially things that have been broken for as long as anyone can remember. Simple solution, remove majority of troops, reduce funding to Afghan government, increase drone strikes and material aid to Pakistan to keep the heat on. We don't want to let the terrorists be, but we don't need the drain on public support and there’s nothing the public loves more than supped up drones blowing up terrorists.

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The most obvious difference between General McChrystal and President Obama is that the General is actually fully qualified for his position, based on his experience and aptitude.

President Obama? Not so much...a junior state senator with no executive experience who can give a "great speech" and build a presidential campaign based on nice ambiguities? I'll take General McChrystal's experience and perspectives on leadership any day!

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McChrystal isn't accused of disobeying orders or undermining U.S. policy.

Actually, he is accused of undermining U.S. policy, albiet indirectly: by publicly acsting aspersions on the civilian command he undermines the commander-in-chief and his policies, and potentially damages troop morale. I understand how this may seem trivial, but in the military world this is a HUGE no-no. McChrystal will be lucky to keep his job - and will do so only if Obama feels he is indespensible.

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The article is now up online on the Rolling Stone website, apparently they decided they wouldn't be able to control the leaks until the magazine comes out on Friday, so no point trying.

So it is there if anybody wants to read it for themselves.

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Whose been at the sugar this morning? Any talk of this little incident amounting to "treason" is so unrealistic that it is laughable.

At it's worse, the general's brain fxrt is a classic example of a uniformed office stupidly conflicting his personal beliefs with his public duties. Furthermore, by criticizing the C-in-C, even indirectly, his position has become untenable. It reminds me of the old saying that the "army protects freedom-of-speech, it does not practice it."

The only issue left to decide is whether the general falls on his sword and resigns, or whether he will be given a violent shove by those who wish to use this episode as a means by which to further their own political agenda.

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I support General McChrystal! We need to pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and Japan! BRING OUR TROOPS HOME and SECURE THE US-MEXICO BORDER! Obama is going to be known as one of the worst presidents in US history. He is very ineffectual, takes forever to make a decision, is the most liberal president we've ever had, puts his personal politics over policy decisions, etc.

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If you want "yes men" then get a new general. If you want someone to give it to you the way it really is, then keep him on. I am deeply disappointed by the general's apology.

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Well, can we imagine him flying to Washington and eating... crow pie? humble pie?

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LFRAgain - Obama is the duly elected president of the United States and as such, the Cammander in Chief of all U.S. military forces, a civilian position with the express purpose of striking an essential balance between diplomacy and aggression.

If Gen Stanley McChrystal can't or won't accept these most fundamental premises of the U.S. system of government, then he has no business in the uniform. It's not "good on him." It's treason.

McChrystal isn't accused of disobeying orders or undermining U.S. policy. What he and his staff did was disrespectful but it was not treason.

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Vulcan,

Barak Obama has no military experience and these General's who have 35+ years experience don't like taking orders from him. . . Good for him!

Obama is the duly elected president of the United States and as such, the Cammander in Chief of all U.S. military forces, a civilian position with the express purpose of striking an essential balance between diplomacy and aggression.

If Gen Stanley McChrystal can't or won't accept these most fundamental premises of the U.S. system of government, then he has no business in the uniform. It's not "good on him." It's treason.

Sounds like you might need to get your brain wrapped around the concept as well.

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Triumvere - True, but that doesn't mean you'll see Obama riding around Afghanistan in a tank (which is what "assume command on the battlefield" seems to imply). A smart Commander in Chief sets the tone of the overall strategy, while leaving the details to the experts.

And the Commander in Chief's hand-picked expert is (was?) Gen Stanley McChrystal.

The comedy just writes itself.

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It doesn't matter what General McCrystal thinks. As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama outranks any military officer and so has the inherent right to assume command on the battlefield.

And thats the scary part..

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Arrestpaul,

True, but that doesn't mean you'll see Obama riding around Afghanistan in a tank (which is what "assume command on the battlefield" seems to imply). A smart Commander in Chief sets the tone of the overall strategy, while leaving the details to the experts.

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timorborder - President Obama outranks any military officer and so has the inherent right to assume command on the battlefield

Understand the sentiment but would disagree with the "assume command on the battlefield" comment. The civilian administration and the military command structure are two completely different things. That being said, however, what I think you meant was that the "military is subordinate to the civilian administration as embodied by the office of the President of the United States."

The President of the United States is also the Commander in Chief of the entire U.S. military. He outranks everyone.

The executive branch of the civilian administration and the military command structure merge into one person at the top.

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Here in good ol' US of A, we take civilian command of the armed forces very seriously. I whether or not McChrystal retains his current command, his career is pretty much done.

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President Obama outranks any military officer and so has the inherent right to assume command on the battlefield

Understand the sentiment but would disagree with the "assume command on the battlefield" comment. The civilian administration and the military command structure are two completely different things. That being said, however, what I think you meant was that the "military is subordinate to the civilian administration as embodied by the office of the President of the United States."

On the other hand, letting the civilians (without military advice) run a war is a recipe for disaster, for example, Hitler vs. OKW or Rumsfeld vs. Gen. Shinseki and friends.

Just remember, Eric was right.

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I think Gen McCrystal did this on purpose to go out in style.

Referring to the VP as "bite me" is style???

He would probably win.

You really think so? The waste heap of US political history is full of charismatic military leaders who thought they could prevail over civilian politicians. (Eisenhower being the lone exception in modern times.)

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General McChrystal has shown extremely bad judgment with regard to this magazine article, and the only way that this problem can be resolved is for him to hand in his resignation. Why? Because he is too senior to be court martialed on the charge of conduct unbecoming good order and discipline.

Furthermore, did McChrystal sleep through his press liason lectures at Command School? You know the ones that begin with don't trust the press. Also he seems to have forgotten that uniformed officers are not paid to criticize their (non-civilian) superiors, even if their views are contrary to the personal views of the officers in question.

If McChrystal was so troubled by all these issues, he should have handed in his resignation, and then done a hatchet job on the administration via his memoirs.

Finally, a couple of unrelated points. It has been reported that McChrystal had a pretty relaxed relationship with some of his subordinates. Again this shows bad judgment. Being too friendly with the people in your command can undermine your leadership (this is not my view but a view included in the basic leadership syllabus of every army).

Secondly, McChrystal's subordinates who are mentioned in the article also need to swing for this. Responsibility starts at the top, but it does not end there when you happen to be a commissioned officer. McChrystal may be the person in charge, but those under him also need to carry the can (especially those whose job it is to shield their commander from the press).

Thirdly, why did McChrystal end up as the commander in Afghanistan anyway? I seem to remember that his name came up in the Pat Tillman affair, and he was criticized for some of his actions. Surely at the top end of the slippery pole, such problems should have stopped his further promotion? Perhaps a souffle can rise twice?

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vulcan at 08:57 AM JST - 23rd June. Barak Obama has no military experience and these General's who have 35+ years experience don't like taking orders from him.

It doesn't matter what General McCrystal thinks. As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama outranks any military officer and so has the inherent right to assume command on the battlefield. Nevertheless, over the past ten years presidents have been involved in covert operations to and from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan to review the situation in both theaters and to boost troop morale.

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Barak Obama has no military experience and these General's who have 35+ years experience don't like taking orders from him. I think Gen McCrystal did this on purpose to go out in style. His name is recongnized now and he can make a few million on a book deal and possibly run for Senate or President himself. He would probably win. Good for him!

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