Thursday, June 24, 2010

McChrystal and Rolling Stone - what WAS he thinking?

The McChrystal/Rolling Stone article debacle.

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.



Linda said...

I think that McChrystal wanted out, and he knew this was the way to do it. He, as a 4 star general, KNEW that to disparage a president, even one he disliked, was a UCMJ offense.

*** word verification today:
supefunn - as in: gettin' fired from my job is supe funn (said McChrystal!)

Anonymous said...

I had to explain to my mom how serious of an offensive insubordination is. McChrystal might have been doing a fine job, but obviously he isn't ANY good at "politicing", which is something one must do when they are that high up the food chain. He HAD to have known what he was doing!
I'm happy with the choice of Petraeus as well. You say it best- he's been steering the boat. This isn't a step down at all, it's a step UP. Anyone charged with making decision that so directly affect our soldiers MUST be the best and nothing but the best.
I'll keep watching, though, along with all of you.