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Rolling Stone McChrystal Debacle

June 24, 2010

Addendum:  From Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen: their statements .  Admiral Mullen said it best

… I cannot excuse his lack of judgment with respect to the Rolling Stone article or a command climate he evidently permitted that was at best disrespectful of civilian authority.

We do not have that luxury, those of us in uniform. We do not have the right, nor should we ever assume the prerogative, to cast doubt upon the ability or mock the motives of our civilian leaders, elected or appointed. We are and must remain a neutral instrument of the state, accountable to and respectful of those leaders no matter which party holds sway or which person holds a given office.

I think it is vital for us to remember that if we lose their trust and confidence for any reason, it’s time to go. The job we are called upon to do for the nation is too important, the lives we are sworn to protect too precious, to permit any doubt or uncertainty in that regard. General McChrystal did the right thing by offering to resign.


Since the country has been riveted to the coverage of the Rolling Stone article with General McChrystal, the military blogosphere and Facebook pages have been ablaze.  I’m not going to spend much time with the silliness – the racial overtones in some posts was disturbing, disgusting, but not unexpected.  The divide was the usual gap – those who support the current administration and those that think anything that comes out of the White House is suspect and scream “POTUS wants to wreck the military” or “he hates the military”.  I’ve seen ridiculous comments – that McChrystal should have removed POTUS was one that really stood out for me!

Those of us who have been in our sub world for a little longer realized that the disrespect and contempt shown for the civilian leadership of the country, the civilian “partners” that the general needed to work with, could only lead to the result we saw yesterday.  The screeching of “freedom of speeeeeeeeeech” – may I just remind those folks of Article 88 of the UCMJ.  As a friend said, Article 88, learn it, live it, make sure your subordinates do the same.

What I found so remarkable, personally, was the sheer lack of judgment, the utter foolishness of anyone allowing a reporter from Rolling Stone to hang out with them for weeks, listening to the (to us) usual testosterone slinging trash talk of men and women in uniform.  Seriously, Rolling Stone???  If he’s allowing anyone to sit around and see the frat brother antics, why not someone from one of the “friendlier” publications – Military Officer, or one of the military Times?   They would have understood that this type of behaviour is often seen in that world and wouldn’t have made much of it.  But a publication that lives on scandal, that is notoriously unfriendly to the military – Really? One of the unspoken duties of the commanding general is to be an example to the rest of his command, and that example of a lack of respect, disdain and contempt openly expressed  is not what a commanding general wants from his subordinates.  Someone who said to me “oh it wasn’t so bad” did have to admit that if she had openly shown this contempt for one of her superiors whilst in uniform, her career would have come to a halt in a matter of minutes.   What you say in the privacy of your own home, with your friends, that’s one thing, to say it in front of a member of the media – that’s another.

The decision to put the other leg of the decision making chair, General Petraeus, in command, was the right one, in my opinion.  He doesn’t need to be brought up to speed, he’s been steering the boat!   Of course, that decision has caused some commenters to twist themselves into all sorts of knots, decrying the POTUS’s decision to remove McChrystal but not able to criticize the replacement! Well – one did ask if this was a nefarious attempt to prevent General Petraeus running for President in 2012, which is so ridiculous it really did make me laugh.

Let’s all wish the best to General Petraeus and his staff, their decisions are going to mean a great deal to those of us in the military community.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2010 9:31 am

    While I agree with the punishment and have read and discussed Article 88 with my husband I still don’t think what was said in the Rolling Stone Article was ‘that’ bad. And lets face it 90% of what was said wasn’t from General McChrystal himself, but his aides and “inner circle”.
    All the same the punishment was warranted but it’s sad to see a soldier (described as brilliant) fall in this way. He has done some pretty badass things in his career (how many 4 stars do you know that are out on foot patrols?). In all fairness he’s done some pretty stupid things also (Pat Tillman??). Bitter sweet in my eyes. Personally I think he should have been ousted/fired/forced to resign… over the failed policies versus the Rolling Stone article. The policies which put the troops on the ground at an even greater risk; hindering their ability to rely or access “airstrikes and guided rocket attacks, artillery barrages and even mortar fire” (per an article in the NY Times). I think these types of policies put in place to “win the hearts and minds” of the Afghani’s and diminish the troops ability to defend/engage on the battle field were warranted of what we saw yesterday. Moreso than a serious lack in judgement on the part of McChrystal’s PR Officer.
    -Just my 2 cents.

  2. TammyJ permalink
    June 24, 2010 10:13 am

    I have noticed so many (especially in the civilian community but I’ve seen plenty military folks too) saying things to the effect that McChrystal has a “right to free speech.” But even if you don’t understand military rules on such speech try this out in a civilian context. If a high ranking official at say GM was featured in an expose by Rolling Stone and saying similar things about the CEO, do you think he’d still have a job?

    Seems to me POTUS had no other choice…

    • June 24, 2010 1:40 pm

      I totally agree with Tammy here. I mean, in what other world would this sort of *public* behavior be tolerated? Answer: none. Furthermore, his position dictated a certain level of decorum, leadership and respect. Sadly, despite his impressive and well earned resume as a soldier, his behavior (and stupidity) didn’t reflect any of these expectations that he knew came with the job. General McChrystal left the President no other choice.

      And for what its worth, I’m pretty happy with his replacement.

  3. June 25, 2010 8:05 am

    I have a lot of respect for Gen. McChrystal — I think he is a brilliant man, but none the less, a little bit of a loose canon. I got into this discussion last night with some friends, whose response (as it is with most things) was “Fuck Obama!” And these are from MILITARY people, who understand that doing this type of thing is not tolerated.

    As I said on my blog facebook page last night, whether or not McChrystal directly said the things in the article, or it’s a game of “he said, she said,” he is ULTIMATELY responsible for it all. He allowed it to happen, he allowed those under him, some of whom were soldiers, to say the things that were said. We are all quick to hold the President responsible for things that happen (and rightfully so). Why shouldn’t we hold that same standard for our top brass in the military??

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